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V. 4 


3 1404 00 

083 796 

Trevelyan, -ii^ Geo» Ofcto 
The i\iaerican Revolution 

Vol. 4 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 
Brigham Young University-Idaho 



Volume IV 




By SIR G. 0. TREVELYAN, Bart., O.M. 


In Six Volumes. Crown 8vo .... 

Separately, as follows : — 

Volume L, with Portrait and Map .... 
Volume II., with Two Maps ..... 
Volume III., with Map and Complete Index to Volumes I. -III. 

Crown 8vo ....... 

Volume IV., Saratoga and Ikandywine, Valley 
Forge, England and France at War. 

Crown 8vo, w ith Three Maps and Index . 

The Concluding Part of "The American Revolution." 

In Two Volumes. Crown 8vo. Qoth, gilt top. 
Volume I., with a Map ...... 

Volume II., with Map and Index to both Volumes 











Volume IV 





Copyright, 1907, by 

Copyright. 1912, by 

Ali rights reserr'fd. 

First Edition printed September. 1907; reprinted September. 1909. 
New Edition, February. 191a; reprinted Kcbruary, 19x3; 
January, 1915; December, 1917 : June, 1930; December, 1931. 





Relative forces of Howe and Washington 
Outburst of Republican energy after Trenton 
Henry Knox at Boston . 

The War Governors — George Clinton 
William Livingston 
Jonathan Trumbull 

Congress : Samuel Adams 
Administrative work of Congressmen 
The Provincial Assemblies 
Franklin and the tobacco parcels . 

Dearth of military stores 
The American flint 
The French muskets 










Silas Deane and Ducoudray . 
Washington and the foreign officers 
Death of Ducoudray . . • 

Loyalist activities .... 
Governor Franklin .... 
The Loyalists unwilling to enlist 

Washington at Morristown 
His mode of life .... 
The army inoculated for the Small-pox 
Washington plants himself at Middlebrook 









Howe advances, and retires. 
Howe abandons New Jersey 

Defeat of General Stirling 




The British Cabinet considers the plan of campaign 
Germaine over-rules Sir William Howe, and orders an attack 

upon Albany from three separate quarters 
Burgoyne selected to command the Canadian army 
Carleton's disinterested conduct 
Burgoyne's army. His British Infantry 
Riedesel and the Brunswickers 
The Indians 

Burgoyne's Speech to the Indians 
His Proclamation . 

The Politicians in Congress, and the Generals 
Philip Schuyler. His unpopularity in New England 
Horatio Gates ....... 

Misery of the Ticonderoga garrison 

Description of the fortress, and of Lake Champlain 

Investment and capture of Ticonderoga . 

Destruction of the American Naval power on the Lake 

Conflict at Hubbardtown, and complete success of Burgoyne 

Reception of his victory in England .... 












Weakness and destitution of Schuyler's army . 
He retires from Fort Edward to Stillwater 
Washington sends him reinforcements . 
Benedict Arnold at Danbury . . . . 
Arnold repairs to Schuyler's headquarters 






The American forest-roads and water-ways 

Burgoyne reaches Fort Edward. The difficulties of Transport 

and Supply begin to be felt . . . . . -123 
The Indian auxiliaries. Murder of Jane Mac Crea . . .125 


Washington sends General Lincoln to attack Burgoyne's com 
munications ........ 

Washington's appeal to his countrymen .... 

Enthusiasm in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut 
Morgan's riflemen ........ 

Confidence felt in Schuyler by his army . , , . 
He is superseded by Horatio Gates .... 

Burgoyne cut off from Canada 

The British advance to Saratoga 

Bemis's Heights 

Burgoyne's plan of battle 

Arnold takes the offensive. The conflict at Freeman's Farm 
After the battle. Burgoyne intrenches his position 
Arnold removed from his command .... 
Great and increasing strength of the American army 
Burgoyne once more goes into action .... 
Irruption into the field of Benedict Arnold 
Retirement of the British, and desperate fighting inside their 
lines. Arnold wounded 


Philip Skene of Skenesborough . . . . , .128 

Burgoyne sends Colonel Baum into the Hampshire Grants . 129 

John Stark and New Hampshire . . . . . • 131 

Baum encamps near Bennington ..#... 133 

Stark annihilates Baum's force . . . . . • 134 

Colonel Breymann defeated with heavy loss . . , • '37 

Beleaguerment of Fort Stanwix by Colonel St. Leger's forces . 139 

Battle of Oriskany. Desperate peril of the American garrison 140 

Arnold volunteers to relieve Fort Stanwix .... 143 

Flight and sufferings of St. Leger's followers .... 144 














General Fraser's funeral 183 

Burgoyne retreats by night 185 

He is blockaded at Saratoga. Hopeless situation of his army 188 

Negotiations for surrender. The Convention of Saratoga 191 



The Capitulation 193 

Honourable conduct of Gates and Schuyler .... 196 
The journey to Boston . . . . . . . .198 

Disappointment of Congress over the terms granted to Bur- 

goyne .......... 202 

Pretexts for violating the Convention 203 

Burgoyne's troops retained in America as prisoners of war . 206 


Anthony Wayne ......... 209 

Washington's uncertainty as to Sir William Howe's intentions 211 
The British fleet arrives in Delaware Bay, and leaves it for 

the Chesapeake . . . . . . . .213 

Germaine's negligence . . . . . . . .215 

Washington marches through Philadelphia . . . .217 

The Marquis de Lafayette 218 

Meeting of Washington and Lafayette ..... 223 

The British disembark in the Elk River . 
Washington takes up a position on the Brandywine 
The Battle : the Americans defeated 
Wayne at Paoli. General Grey . . . . 
The British army occupies Philadelphia . 



Confident temper of the Americans 237 

Germantown .......... 239 

Commencement of the battle. The Chew mansion . . 240 

Brilliant conduct of General Greene. Washington retreats . 245 

Effect produced in Europe by the news of Germantown . . 249 

Philadelphia beleaguered. The Delaware blocked . . .251 

Arrival of Lord Howe and the British Fleet .... 255 

Failure of the attack on Fort Mercer 256 

Distress of the Philadelphian garrison . . • 260 

Lord Howe attacks, and captures, Fort Mifflin . . . 262 

Destruction of the American flotilla 265 




Suspension of active hostilities 

Political sentiments of Pennsylvania, and of Philadelphia 
Saint Tammany ...... 

The British officers in Philadelphia 

The Philadelphian ladies .... 

Tarleton. Richard Fitzpatrick. Captain Andr^ 
The Meschianza 

General Gates neglects to reinforce Washington 

The camp at Valley Forge .... 

Congress breaks up the administrative machinery of the army 

The cold weather sets in. Heart-rending misery of the soldiers 

The hospitals. Bethlehem ....... 





Congress recommends an advance against Philadelphia . . 301 

Violent abuse of Washington and his Generals . . . 303 

John Adams .......... 304 

The Conway Cabal. Gates set up as a rival to Washington . 307 
The Board of War. Washington's cruel position . . . 308 
He takes decisive action. Quarrel between Gates and Wil- 
kinson 310 

Lafayette and Canada . . . . . . . •314 

Discomfiture of Washington's political adversaries . . • 316 


Washington takes in hand the Commissariat 

Plenty at Valley Forge .... 

Defective training of the American army 

Baron de Kalb on the Continental officers 

Baron von Steuben .... 

Light Horse Harry Lee .... 

Mrs. Washington at Valley Forge . 

Reception in camp of the news of a French Alliance 

Sir William Howe succeeded by Sir Henry Clinton 
Philadelphia blockaded by land. American privateering 
Grievances, and hopeless situation, of the Loyalists 







Lord North's Conciliation Bills 

Lord Carlisle ....... 

His impossible task .... 

Clinton prepares to evacuate Philadelphia 




Clinton's reasons for retreating by land . 

The Quakers 

The British fleet and army leave Philadelphia 
Washington pursues ..... 
Battle of Monmouth Court House . 
Clinton arrives at New York .... 
Disgrace of Charles Lee ..... 
Character and results of Washington's strategy 





Indifference in England to the news from America . . . 387 
England's commanding position in 1763 .... 388 

Foreign opinion unfavourably affected by George the Tliird's 

home policy . . . . . . . . -391 

Europe and the American Revolution 393 

Humiliating condition of F* ranee after Chatham's War 
The Due de Choiscul reconstructs the French navy 
The French army ...... 

Fall of Choiseul from power ..... 




Enthusiasm for America in high French circles . . . 407 
The Comte de Maurepas . . . . . . .412 

The Comte de Vergennes . . . . . . -413 

Vergennes recommends a system of treacherous hostility toward 

England . . . . . .415 

Conscientious scruples of Louis the Sixteenth . . • 416 




Turgot opposed to interference in American affairs . . 418 

He becomes the object of an aristocratical intrigue, and is 

dismissed from office . 420 


Caron de Beaumarchais ; his origin, character, and career . 424 
He is sent to England, espouses the American cause, and urges 

the French Cabinet to vigorous action .... 427 

Roderigo Hortalez and Company 430 

Frederic of Prussia ........ 

His interests in Germany prompt him to embroil France with 
England ...... 

Congress and the New Diplomacy . 
Arthur Lee in Spain .... 

He goes thence to Berlin 
Arthur Lee and Hugh Elliot . 




Franklin sails for France as Commissioner 
His difficulties with other Americans at Paris . 
His influence and popularity in France and Europe 
His reception by Parisian Society . . . . 
Franklin as a diplomatist 



Policy which the French Ministers should have pursued in the 

interests of France 466 

Their support of the American Rebellion, and their prepara- 
tions for invading England ...... 468 

Tidings of Saratoga. Signature of the Treaties . . • 471 

Reception of the American Commissioners at Versailles . . 473 

War between France and England 475 




I. General Schuyler, and the New England troops . . 477 
II. Extract from George Washington's Letter to Jonathan 

Trumbull, of October 18. 1 7S0 . . . , . 478 

III. Franklin, and the Russian Embassy .... 479 

Map of the Countr\' which was the Scene of Operations 

of the Northern Army ...... Facing 146 

Map of Saratoga, and Bemis's Heights, in September 

and October 1777 " 208 

At the End of the W^hnne 

Map of the Country between Morristown in New Jersey and Head 
of Elk in Marylaud. 




The battles of Trenton and Princeton had snatched 
America from instant and utter ruin ; but for several 
months to come her discomfiture was averted not by 
her own strength, but by the indolence which beset, 
and the illusions which misled, the British general. 
On the sixth of January, 1777, the Republican army 
arrived at Morristown in such a state of exhaustion 
and disorder ''that a fresh and resolute body of five 
hundred men might have demolished the whole." ^ 
Scores and hundreds of the younger soldiers had 
turned aside for shelter into the woods all along the 
line of march, and flung themselves down to sleep on 
the carpet of pine-needles which covered the frozen 
soil. When the last group of stragglers filed into the 
village which had been selected for their winter 
quarters, the entire force, regulars and militia to- 
gether, amounted at the most to four thousand men. 

For a long while to come the numbers of the army 
never much exceeded, and at times even sank below, that 
miserable figure. The comm.encement of March found 
Washington still at the head of only four thousand 
soldiers ; whereas, according to his computation. General 
Howe had much more than twice that force already m 
the Jerseys, available for an immediate advance. Why 
in the world that officer hesitated to march upon 

^ That is Gordon's account, which he in all probability had direct 
from Washington himself. It is fully borne out by Washington's 



Philadelphia, and eat up Washington's army on the 
way, was a source of standing wonder to Washington 
himself. His confidential letters, during the earlier 
part of the year 1777, compose a scathing and un- 
answerable indictment of the British general's strategy. 
"Howe's men," (so the American commander wrote,) 
*'are well disciplined, well officered, and well appointed. 
Ours are raw militia, badly officered, and under no 
government. His numbers cannot, in any short time, 
be augmented. His situation with respect to horses 
and forage is bad, very bad, I believe. But will it be 
better } No ; on the contrary, worse. With what 
propriety then can he miss so favourable an oppor- 
tunity of striking a capital stroke against a city from 
which we derive so many advantages, which would 
give such ^clat to his arms, and strike such a damp 
upon ours } " 

Such was the plan which, in Washington's opinion, 
Howe ought to have adopted ; and what a competent 
general most dreads, it is an axiom in warfare that 
his opponent should do. The Royal army contained 
Gorman officers, trained in the ideas of Frederic the 
Great, — that untiring captain who kept the field in all 
weathers, and who won Leuthen, the most brilliant 
victory of his generation, on a December afternoon. 
These veterans were now surprised and disgusted at 
finding themselves under the orders of a commander 
who religiously observed the antiquated fashion of 
housing himself and his troops throughout the winter, 
and who apparently interpreted that season as covering 
all the spring, and some })ortion of early summer. The 
gallant and experienced Von Donop, burning to show 
that Hessians could fight effectively when they were 
judiciously led, insisted on the principle that "with rebels 
no campaign ought to be made," but that hostilities 
should be pushed on continuously, in January as in July, 
until the army of the insurgents was broken up, and their 
government dissolved. \'on Donop was unquestion- 
ably in the right. Here was a war which should have 


been waged without intermission of time, or relaxation 
of energy ; for the depth of winter was Sir William 
Howe's most favourable opportunity. His ranks were 
always full. His soldiers were always at his disposal. 
Their regiment was their only home ; and, as long as 
they were on the American side of the ocean, they had 
no distractions which could tempt them from their 
duty, and no occupations except to march and to fight. 
Their professional spirit was high ; and they entertained 
an honourable confidence that, on fair terms, they were 
invincible in battle. " Our army is strong, finely 
clothed and in excellent condition ; full of courage 
and beautifully drilled ; capable of looking into the 
white of the eye of Washington and all his tatter- 
demalions." So a German captain once boasted ; and 
in January 1777 that belief, and nothing short of it, 
was the accepted creed of privates and officers in every 
Royal brigade. 

Howe's troops were very numerous ; while the cir- 
cumstances of the time were such that he could never 
expect them to be so numerous again. He had ten 
thousand men in the Jerseys, with as many more in 
New York City ; and New York, with Lord Howe's 
battleships lying in the Bay, and his frigates scouring 
the North and East Rivers, could safely spare almost 
the whole of its garrison for active service in the open 
country. Two fine divisions of infantry, moreover, 
were eating King George's rations, and drawing his 
pay, in their cantonments on Rhode Island, with no 
advantage whatever to King George's interests. But 
with Washington the case was very different indeed. 
Warm weather brought his militia almost spontaneously 
out of their villages ; but, when the autumn was over, 
and the frost had set in, they were as hard to move from 
their accustomed retreats as animals which had entered 
upon their period of hibernation.^ Even those regular 

^ General Schuyler, who had learned the fact from bitter experience, 
said that "home-sickness in winter was the periodical American dis- 
temper." American Archives for December, 1776. 



levies, which were in course of enlistment for perma- 
nent service in the Continental army, would not leave 
for the front until the weather settled. Washington 
complained that he had repeatedly written to all the 
recruiting officers to forward their soldiers as fast as 
they could arm and clothe them ; but month followed 
month, and he could not get a man to come near him. 
" To expect," he wrote, " that General Howe will not 
avail himself of our weak state is, I think, to say in 
so many words that he is unfit for the trust reposed in 
him." 1 

Sir William Howe greatly over-estimated the strength 
of his opponent. The secrecy, the rapidity, and the 
extraordinarily successful audacity of American tactics 
during the last week of 1776, and the first week of 
1777, had impressed the general of the British army 
with an idea that he had been outnumbered as well 
as out-mancLHivred ; and there was one at hand who 
spared no pains to prevent that im|)rcssion from being 
prematurely effaced. When George Washington deemed 
it incumbent upon him to practise deception, he showed 
capabilities and aptitudes which placed him on a level 
with the most famous masters in the higher branches 
of the art. He began by addressing himself to those 
American generals who exercised separate commands 
within touch, or hearing, of any portion of Howe's out- 
posts ; — inciting them, in urgent and most specific 
language, to ])rompt and strenuous, and above all to 
ostentatious and noisy, action. He wrote for willing 
eyes. George Clinton forthwith set his troops in mo- 
tion, and cleared out the Royal garrisons from the 
Western bank of the Hudson ; while General Heath, — 
with almost quaint scrupulosity of obedience to the 
injunctions of a chief by whom he had willingly allowed 
himself to be superseded, and under whom it was his 
pride to serve, — advanced in force upon King's Bridge. 
On every one of eleven consecutive days there ensued 

1 Washin^on to the President of G^ngrcss, 26th January, 1777; to 
John Augustine Washington, 12th April. 1777. 



alarms and excursions, with lavish firing of cannon and 
muskets, accompanied by very little killing or wounding, 
up and down the whole river-front of the Westchester 
peninsula ; and the show ended by the kindling of 
bonfires in long and well-ordered rows, so situated as 
to convince the military authorities in New York that 
a powerful American army was assembled at the point 
most convenient for crossing the East River with a view 
to assail the city.^ From his own ill-furnished lines 
Washington sent forth detachments of partisans who 
roved the adjoining districts far and near, capturing 
trains of waggons and troops of prisoners, and diffusing 
everywhere panic, and bustle, and rumour to an extent 
out of all proportion to their own scanty numbers. On 
the twenty-fifth January, as if he were already undisputed 
master of the entire country-side, he issued a proclama- 
tion declaring that all persons who had accepted Lord 
Howe's offer of protection, and had sworn fidelity to 
King George, must retire at once within territory occu- 
pied by the British army, unless they were prepared to 
take an oath of allegiance to the United States of 
America. The citizens of New Jersey responded eagerly 
to Washington's invitation. They did not want the 
Hessians back into their parlours and store-chambers ; 
they took the proposed oath freely, and observed it 
a great deal better than they had observed its pre- 
decessor ; and they gave very practical evidence of 
having learned the lesson that promises of protection 
are worth little to people who lack spirit to protect 
themselves. Armed bands of resentful yeomen soon 
beleaguered all the roads along which fresh meat and 
vegetables travelled to New York, and along which salt 
meat and biscuit were sent out to the British canton- 
ments upon the Raritan River. Very little that would 
tempt the appetite found its way to the mess-tables 

1 " The enemy," (Washington wrote to Heath on the fifth January,) 
"are in great consternation ; and it has been determined in council that 
you should move down towards New York with a considerable force, as if 
you had a design upon the city." 


within the city ; and at New Brunswick, the advanced 
post on the extreme flank of Howe's contracted lines, 
there were days when the garrison had nothing to eat 
at all.i 

The leaders of the Revolution entertained a strong, 
and most just, presentiment that the fighting, when it 
again began in earnest, would neither flag, nor termi- 
nate, until the issue of the struggle had been virtually 
decided. It was for their adversary to settle whether 
the interval which preceded a general clash of arms 
was to be long, or brief ; but they fully appreciated the 
value of every day, and every hour, which Sir William 
Howe's procrastination placed at their disposal. The 
task in front of them was of stupendous magnitude ; 
and their labours were conducted under very peculiar 
difficulties. Their army was still to make. Their 
administrative system was confused in practice, and 
totally incomprehensible in theory. The very idea of 
a supreme national authority was new and unfamiliar 
to Americans, and the exercise of it unpopular; each 
State government had its own ways of doing public 
business, which it not unfrcquently pursued with the 
result of undoing the wiser work of others ; while the 
functions and responsibilities of every man in a high 
executive position remained uncertain and ill-defined, 
and his official power was for the most part only such 
as he could induce his countrymen voluntarily to con- 
cede to him. But the sense of an imminent and 
transcendent crisis stirred every heart, and nerved 
every arm. Even those personal jealousies and an- 
tagonisms, which were unpleasantly rife, quickened, at 
least as much as they hampered, the activities of 
ambitious soldiers and politicians. It was the season 
of a great revival. Reasonable hope had succeeded to 
blank despair; and the final and triumphant establish- 
ment of the Republic was largely due to the feats of 
creative energy which were accomplished, during the 

^ The lie of the ground across New Jersey, between Philadelphia and 
New York, may be seen in the large map at the end of this volume. 


first five months of i yyy^ by her agents on the continent 
of Europe, and her servants at home. 

Every corner throughout the entire workshop of the 
Revolution was pervaded by Washington's influence, 
which he was in a mood to exert pleasurably to him- 
self, and acceptably to others. That external serenity, 
which for a long while past he had maintained by dint 
of constant and conscious effort, was henceforward the 
natural expression and symptom of the tranquil and 
hopeful spirit which reigned within. From this point 
onwards, for many months to come, the reader of 
his confidential letters ceases to notice those occasional 
ejaculations of distress, and even of anguish, which 
were wrung from him so long as he could discern no 
end to the misery, and no light in the dark future, of 
what he then so frequently described as his " bleeding 
country." By every rule of war, as his cold reason 
informed him, he still lay at the mercy of his an- 
tagonist ; but none the less was he comfortably aware 
that he had to do, not with the ideal army-leader whose 
existence is taken for granted by writers on the Art of 
Strategy, but with the actual lethargic personality of 
Sir William Howe. A general who, with no military 
justification whatever, had wasted one month, might in 
all likelihood be counted upon to waste another, and 
yet another. But the blow, though long postponed, 
was certain to fall at last ; and, — come late, come 
soon, — it should not be Washington's own fault if he 
was unprepared to meet it. Active, vigilant, and 
courteously but indomitably persistent, throughout this 
momentous period he was a centre of force and vitality 
for the whole Confederacy. Every successive post 
carried forth, to all quarters of the compass, his spirited 
exhortations, and minute workmanlike instructions, 
with regard to the levying, officering, drilling, clothing, 
and arming the additional battalions of regular soldiers 
which Congress had empowered him to raise; and 
almost every letter contained an earnest entreaty for 
the temporary loan of militia regiments in sufficient 


quantity to tide over the interval which necessarily 
must elapse before his New Model Army, (for by that 
historical and redoubtable name it had some title to be 
called) was in a fit condition to take to the field. ^ 

Washington's principal coadjutor in his scheme of 
miHtary reorganisation was General Henry Knox, whom, 
during these months of fruitful activity, he sent as his 
confidential lieutenant to the spot where judicious 
management mii^ht be expected to produce the most 
speedy and vakiable results. Boston, (as John Adams 
told his wife with great justice,) was now the safest 
place on the American continent. The citizens had 
erected batteries on commanding points, and kept hulks 
at the mouth of the harbour, ready to be scuttled and 
sunk, for purposes of obstruction, in case of an attack 
by the British fleet; but they had ceased to contem- 
plate a second siege as a real and formidable pro- 
bability. The consciousness of security did not render 
them ungrateful or selfish. They recognised that their 
own community, having been so generously and chival- 
rously assisted in the hour of her sorest need, was 
under a heavy obligation to other States and cities 
which now were in the forefront of peril and the mid- 
furnace of the war. It was an obligation which they 
had adequate, and even over-abundant, means to dis- 
charge. The province of which Boston, in defiance of 
the most foolish and fatal Statute that ever received 
the Royal Assent, was again the capital, pos.sessed the 
power, as well as the will, to support more than her 
due share of the common national burden. Massachu- 
setts, with her large, homogeneous, and thickly planted 
population, — always fer\'id, and, (ever since the great 
Tory emigration,) all but unanimous, for the Revolution, 
— was much the most fertile recruiting-ground to which 
Washington had access. Her pro.sperity had revived ; 

^ Washington's circular letter to the New England States, of January 
the twenty-fourth, gives a stirring and striking exposition of the sacrifices 
and exertions which, in his view, the situation demanded. It is well 
worth perusal. 


although the tide of her opulence no longer flowed 
along the ancient channel ; for the commerce of Boston 
with Great Britain was for the time destroyed quite as 
efficaciously as the author of the Boston Port Bill 
had desired and devised. That amount of success 
undoubtedly attended Lord North's parliamentary legis- 
lation. Boston, however, already enjoyed a substitute, 
and more than an equivalent, for her former trade 
with the mother country. She might now, in despite of 
Downing Street, exchange goods with every mercantile 
nation of Europe ; and she had discovered a gold-mine 
in her opportunities for privateering. The Loyalists in 
London were informed by a brother-exile, who had left 
New England very early in 1777, "^"^^ the harbour of 
Boston was strongly fortified, and that the inhabitants 
were sanguine in their expectations of a French war, 
and encouraged in their errors by Danish, French, and 
Spanish traders, who swarmed in the port. " King 
Street," (so this gentleman's account ran,) ''is almost as 
much thronged with people of all nations as the Strand 
and Cornhill ; two hundred and eighty-three prizes 
carried in by the twenty-third December ; four vessels 
with goods from France, with powder, small-arms, 
clothing, and other articles ; one with twenty thousand 
suits of military clothing, an article not a little wanted 
among them." The gains of those concerned were 
enormous. One young fellow had made twenty thou- 
sand pounds sterling by privateering; and a remarkably 
clever citizen, who formerly had been anything but a 
Croesus, was now the busiest and most important, and 
very nearly the richest, personage in Boston.^ 

Although Massachusetts was wilHng to spend her 
wealth, both new and old, and her very considerable 
resources of men and material, in furthering the cause 
of the Revolution, she was not so ready to place herself 
unreservedly at the disposal of the central government. 
A genuine enthusiasm for the idea of a united America 

^ Samuel Curwen to the Reverend Isaac Smith ; March 19, 1777. 


took root early in the province, and grew fast; but 
local patriotism, of an intense type, prevailed in many 
quarters ; and in some powerful minds that sentiment 
was narrow even to the verge of exclusiveness. The 
representatives of Massachusetts in Congress had taken 
a forward part in electing a Virginian to the post of 
Commander-in-Chief. Their action met with the appro- 
bation of their constituents, who had long admired 
Washington from a distance, and who soon learned to 
esteem him as favourably as if he had first seen the light 
in one of the Beacon Street mansions which overlooked 
the Common. They still, however, watched Virginians 
in general with suspicion and dislike ; and, to their 
view, Washington had far too many Southerners about 
him. But that self-reliant and very discreet great man, 
while he worked his staff-officers hard, and almost 
mercilessly, was not in the habit of taking his opinions 
from aides-de-camp or secretaries. He was firmly per- 
suaded that the people of Massachusetts would do their 
part, and more than their part, at that all-important con- 
juncture, if, — and only if, — they were handled skilfully, 
considerately, honestly, and (above all things) by one 
of themselves. 

The precise instrument which Washington required 
lay within reach of his grasp. Henry Kno.x was at 
home in Boston, and had that familiar acquaintance 
with all her leading people which would naturally be 
possessed by a very popular bookseller in the most 
literary of cities. His fellow-townsmen were exceed- 
ingly proud of him; and well they might be; for he 
was a noted specialist in the branch of industry which 
then concerned their safety the most. In the depth of 
a frightful winter he had brought southwards, through 
a pathless wilderness, the train of battering cannon 
which eventually expelled the invader from Boston ; 
during a night of tempest he had transported across 
the Delaware the large contingent of field-pieces that did 
so much to decide the event at Trenton ; and in battle 
he was never contented until his guns, and he, were 


within point-blank range of the enemy. A homely 
warrior, till the close of his life he looked the pro- 
sperous tradesman. He was welcome everywhere with 
his jolly, rolHng figure, and his hearty voice, which had 
often risen loud and clear above much more terrifying 
noises than the street-traffic on a Boston pavement.^ 
General Knox repaired to his native city ostensibly 
with the object of raising a battalion of artillery ; but 
he was entrusted by the Commander-in-Chief with an 
unwritten commission to use his influence, his experi- 
ence, and his tact in supervising the general military 
arrangements of Massachusetts. Washington, — who 
kept his powers of mystification for Sir William Howe, 
and did not expend them on his own countrymen, — told 
the State authorities that he relied upon them to supply 
recruits for his new battalions in proportion, not to the 
actual population of the province, but to the excessive 
and exceptional numbers which they had put into the 
field already. His frankness evoked a very practical 
response. Massachusetts had contributed three quarters 
of the force that first blockaded Boston. During the 
cruel and prolonged campaign, which had only just 
ended, her sons fought in every engagement, starved 
and shivered at every bivouac, and lay buried by 
hundreds in those hospital cemeteries which were the 
winter quarters for so many soldiers of that hapless 
army. She had despatched sixteen thousand men to 
the front in 1775, and fourteen thousand in 1776; and 
yet, before the peace came, she sent nearly forty 
thousand more into the Continental ranks. It was a 
contingent all but double of that which was furnished 
by any other State in the American Union.^ 

^ In 1803 General Knox was still a favourite with Bostonians of both 
sexes, young and old. His outward appearance was less martial than ever. 
" General and Mrs. Knox," (we are told,) " grew to be enormously stout, 
and were perhaps the largest couple in the city of New York at the time 
when Washington was inaugurated as first President of the United 
States." A GirVs Life Eighty Years ago, being Selections from the 
Letters of Eliza Southgate Bourne\ New York, 1903. 

2 These figures are taken from the Report communicated to Congress 
in 1790 by General Henry Knox, then Secretary of War. He remarks 


In several of the most populous, and critically 
situated, among the States, Washington had the com- 
fort and advantage of being able to rely on the services 
of a trustworthy auxiliary belonging to his own social 
class, and animated by the same lofty and disinterested 
motives as those which guided his own conduct. 
Among the actors who walked the stage during the 
performance of that prolonged drama, there was no 
more striking and characteristic group than the great 
war governors of the Revolution. The Prefect of a 
French Department, between the years 1800 and 18 14, 
was a functionary as essential to the success of mihtary 
operations as the general who led a division in the 
field. Napoleon's Grand Army depended for its exist- 
ence on the administrator at home, whose vocation it 
was to keep Jacobins and Royalists in order; to see 
that the taxes were punctually paid, the magazines full, 
and the manufactories of uniforms and camp-equip- 
ments busy; to hunt up refractory conscripts; and to 
start batch after batch of recruits on the first stage of 
their journey towards the hostile frontier. Provincial 
Governors in the United States, between 1776 and 
1782, had very similar duties to those of a Prefect of 
the First French Plmpire; but they resembled him in 
little else. Their exact parallel may rather be found 
in those Puritan country gentlemen who, in the summer 
of 1642, travelled down from Westminster to raise and 
organise the armed power of their respective counties 
in opposition to the Crown. These American Governors 
were not professional placemen, appointed from above, 
and taken from outside the province which was 
committed to their supervision. Every one of them 
"had established, and held for himself, the position of 
leading citizen in his own town, — that most valued 
and intangible of American distinctions " ; and in a time 
of confusion and peril the inhabitants of each locality, 

that, as far as relates to the Regular Army, the numbers are "stated from 
the official Returns deposited in the War Office, and may be depended 


who derived their origin from a nation which honoured 
and followed its squires, almost instinctively accepted 
the most important and respected among their neigh- 
bours as their natural leader. 

Such was George Clinton, a soldier who came from 
a long line of civil and military dignitaries, and rural 
magnates. One of his ancestors had fought for Charles 
the First, and had lost his patrimonial estate in England 
as a punishment for his loyalty. Another brought 
over a large party of immigrants from Ireland, and 
founded a settlement on the Hudson River.^ George 
Clinton himself was the first popularly elected Governor 
of New York State, and he retained his post throughout 
the war, fighting his administrative district as a stout 
captain fights his ship in battle; taking no hoHdays 
himself, and very parsimonious in the matter of fur- 
loughs, or exemptions from service, for others ; sternly 
enforcing the penal code of war against spies and 
deserters ; exceedingly sharp in his methods with 
mutineers and rioters ; and never shrinking, in a case 
of public necessity, from fearless and autocratic action. 
He understood his countrymen, whose pride and satis- 
faction in being governed strongly by a man of their 
own choice, born amongst them, are in proportion to 
their distaste for being either ruled, or represented, by 
a stranger; — a feeling which the electoral provisions of 
their written Constitutions, State and Federal alike, so 
legibly and unmistakably indicate. After a first, and 
a very crucial, experience of George Clinton as their 
Governor, his fellow-citizens re-elected him no fewer 
than six times, and in each case for a full triennial 
period. He died, rich in years and in repute, during 
his second term of office as Vice-President of the 
United States.^ 

1 A kinsman, and an early patron, of George Clinton was a Royal 
Governor of New York State, and the father of the Sir Henry Clinton 
who succeeded General Howe as Commander-in-Chief in America. 

2 Thomas M'Kean wrote to John Adams, from Philadelphia, in June 
l8i2: "Our venerable friend Clinton has gone before us. So has the 


Such, again, was William Livingston, the Governor 
of New Jersey. He belonged to a numerous, and 
exceedingly powerful, family residing within a vast 
manor of three hundred thousand acres, which in the 
seventeenth century had been acquired from the abori- 
ginal inhabitants partly by purchase, and partly, (if 
New York Tory gossip is to be accepted as evidence,) 
by the very simple expedient of periodically rolling the 
boundary-stones farther back into Indian territory. 
The ancestor of the Livingstons sprang from an ancient 
and noble house in Scotland. A preacher of the 
Reformed Church in that country, he was driven into 
exile after the Restoration by episcopal persecution, 
and died at Rotterdam. The most notable among his 
descendants was from youth upwards a fierce Pres- 
byterian. William Livingston was educated at Yale 
College, a veritable nursery of militant Whiggism, 
where he used to entertain his fellow-students by his 
rough and contemptuous sallies against the theory of 
Passive Obedience ; and he now was completely in his 
element as the armed ruler of a population which 
bitterly repented having made a sincere attempt to 
put that ancient Jacobite doctrine into actual practice, 
with such lamentable consequences to their granaries, 
their herds, and their plate-chests. " New Jersey," 
(so a French officer reported to his government,) 
** which almost touches the fortifications of New York, 
has displayed heroic constancy. Its militia assembles 
of its own accord at the sight of a red coat. Their 
Governor is a Roman. The Republicans call him 
Brutus; the Royalists an American Nero." ^ Repub- 

illustrious Washington, eleven years ago. I remain the only surviving 
member of the first American Congress, held in the City of New York in 
October 1765 ; and but three more, of whom you are one, remain alive 
of the second, held in this city in September, 1774." Those three were 
Adams, Jefferson, and Charles Carroll of Annapolis, "a very sensible 
gentleman, a Roman Catholic, and of the hrst fortune in America." 
Carroll long survive! all the other "signers" of the Declaration of 
Independence ; and his countrymen watched his state of health, and 
counted his birthdays, with a reverential, and somewhat pathetic, interest. 
^ B. F. Steven's Facsimiles ^ Letter 1616. 


licans and Royalists united in speaking of him as a 
very indifferent orator ; but he could make his meaning 
plain. ^ William Livingston never shirked the avowal 
of his principles, or blinked at the ultimate conclusions 
towards which they logically conducted him. As early 
as July 1778 he flatly pronounced that to maintain 
negro slavery was inconsistent with Christianity, and 
peculiarly odious and disgraceful in Americans, who 
professed to idolise liberty. 

When the Civil War broke out, Jonathan Trumbull 
was already Governor of Connecticut. At an early 
stage of the controversy he perceived that it would be 
impossible for him to reconcile the conflicting claims 
of a divided patriotism, and that he must choose between 
the country whence his forefathers came, and the soil 
on which he had been born and bred ; — between the 
King under whose authority he held office, and the 
people who were entrusted to his charge. The hour 
for decision arrived ; and he declared for the Revolu- 
tion. He had seen his sixty-fourth birthday ; but the 
vigour of his mind was not abated ; and, if his body 
was more frail than in the past, that was Jonathan 
Trumbull's own concern, and he kept the knowledge 
of it to himself. His advanced years entailed upon 
him no visible drawbacks, and in some respects con- 
tributed much to his value and efficiency. He ruled 
his province absolutely, in paternal fashion, and with 
patriarchal authority. " Governor Trumbull," said a 
foreigner who knew Connecticut well, *' governs this 
State as he pleases." Moreover he was at a time of 
life when his sons, — with whom, like a true New 
Englander, he was abundantly provided, — had all 
reached the military age ; while some among them 
were of mature years, and versed in practical business. 
They entered the Republican army ; and Trumbull, 
who seldom begged a favour, was always willing to use 
his interest for the purpose of getting them employed 

^ Judge Jones's History of New York, Volume I., Chapter I. Diary 
of John Adams, Aug. 27, and Sept. i, 1774. 


where bullets were flying. One of them was ere long 
appointed Comptroller of the Treasury, and another 
died Commissary General of the national forces. The^ 
all had habitually lived with their father upon terms of 
respectful, but affectionate and fearless, intimacy ; and 
thus it came about that the Governor of Connecticut was 
provided with authentic intelligence, from the head- 
quarters of war and administration, by members of his 
own family, imbued with his own public spirit, and shar- 
ing his reverence for facts and realities, and his quiet dis- 
dain of uncharitable criticism and idle scandal. 

Trumbull was a representative American, who had 
turned his hand to many things, had grasped them 
firmly, and kept them all ready for use when occasion 
called. During nearly the whole of his working career 
he was engaged in trade ; and he had made himself an 
erudite, a skilful, and an honoured lawyer. He sat 
nineteen years as a Judge in Probate, and four years as 
Chief Justice of his Colony. After quitting college he 
had studied divinity, with the intention of becoming a 
clergyman ; and the Bible had taught him much which 
stood him in stead when his time of trial came. The 
higher soul of the Revolution is embodied in the im- 
mense collection of Trumbull's public and private letters. 
His calm and lofty self-possession, fed from a source 
which earthly dangers and disasters could not agitate 
or perturb, was the stay and solace of many a despon- 
dent colleague. He faced his colossal toil cheerfully 
and hopefully, in the belief that he held a commission 
from an all-wise and all-powerful Master, and that an 
account of his labours must be duly rendered in a 
higher quarter than the Board of War at Philadelphia. 
" We have this year seen the wonderful ways, and 
marvellous works, of the Lord. When we are doing 
our duty, and using such means as He hath put in our 
power, we may then stand still, and hope to see our 
salvation." 1 That was Trumbull's creed; and that 

^ Letter from Jonathan Trumbull of February 26, 1776. The Massa- 
chusetts Historical Collections ; Series VII., Volume 2. 


was his constant practice. His friendship and co-opera- 
tion were very helpful to Washington, who derived 
much satisfaction from the substance of his letters, 
which were always to the point ; and who found no 
fault with their sincere and impressive, if somewhat 
archaic, style. ^ The civilian, when writing to the 
soldier, did not obtrude his opinion on questions of 
military tactics ; but he displayed a remarkable appre- 
ciation of military exigencies, and he was unequalled 
in his mastery over the art of supplying the urgent and 
manifold demands of war. In August 1776, when New 
York was threatened, and Washington despatched to 
Connecticut a pressing request for reinforcements, the 
Governor replied that he had already ordered out four- 
teen regiments of substantial farmers, whose business 
could ill spare them in harvest-time, but whom the 
General was at liberty to retain till the immediate peril 
was over. " I cannot," returned Washington, ** suffi- 
ciently express my thanks for your strenuous exertions, 
and prudent forecast in ordering matters so that your 
force has generally been collected and put in motion as 
soon as it is demanded." During the last six years of 
the war, — when the country everywhere was growing 
very weary, and the martial spirit had perceptibly slack- 
ened in some leading States, — the Continental army 
continued to draw an annual average of four thousand 
three hundred recruits from the townships of Connecti- 
cut. Intense as were Trumbull's political convictions, 
through all that cruel and angry period he ruled like a 
patriot rather than a partisan ; and, mindful of peace in 
the midst of war, he was at pains to prepare his fellow- 

1 "The honorable Congress has, with one united voice, appointed you 
to the high station you possess. The Supreme Director of all events has 
caused a wonderful union of hearts and counsels to subsist amongst us. 
Now, therefore, be strong and very courageous. May the God of the 
armies of Israel shower down the blessing of His divine providence on 
you, give you wisdom and fortitude, and cover your head in the day of 
battle ! " Those were the terms in which Trumbull congratulated Wash- 
ington on his nomination as Commander-in-Chief ; and Washington re- 
sponded in a similar vein. 



citizens for the duties and responsibilities, which awaited 
them in a happier future, by directing their footsteps 
into the paths of antique prudence, frugahty, and probity. 
Monsieur Guizot once asked James Russell Lowell how 
long, in his anticipation, the American republic was 
likely to endure. ** So long," was the answer, '* as the 
ideas of its founders continue to be dominant : " and 
Lowell went on to explain that, by their ideas, he meant 
also the traditions of their race in government and 
morals. Those ideas and traditions are nowhere more 
vividly and instructively exemplified than in the actions 
and writings, the life and the character, of Jonathan 
Trumbull of Connecticut. 

George Washington, and Jonathan Trumbull, live in 
the memory of their compatriots as chiefs and leaders 
of heroic proportions and stainless rejnitation ; but a 
different fate has overtaken another set of Revolutionary 
celebrities who never were lukewarm, and never idle, — 
and who accomplished, if not the best, at all events the 
most, of which they were capable. The politicians who 
sat in Congress during the war got small commendation 
in their own litctime, and, (for the most part,) less than 
no thanks from History. It was not to be expected 
that the members of an assembly which issued the 
Declaration of Independence should enjoy the gratitude 
and esteem of those among their contemporaries who 
favoured the British connection. The view held in the 
Royal army with reference to the American delegates 
at Philadelphia was fairly summed up by an officer who 
called them " a pack of scamps " ;^ while civilian writers 
on the Tory side represented them as upstarts and 
nobodies who had ousted their natural superiors from 
the government of an unhappy country. Sarcasm and 
censure, coming from that quarter, are read without 
surprise ; but it must likewise be admitted that very 

^ Military letter of Feb. 1779 ; quoted in the Penmylvania Magazine 
for July 1S98. 


little ink has been expended in praise or defence of 
Congress by certain American authors whose testimonials 
to Whig merit are in most cases extravagant in eulogy, 
and emotional to the verge of bombast. More than one 
historian in whose eyes Washington was a demigod, and 
every Revolutionary colonel a theme for Plutarch, has 
very few complimentary epithets to bestow upon the 
Congressmen. Virtue, — such virtue as they had, whether 
much or scanty, — was in their case her own reward. 
But they were tough fellows who loved their work ; who 
cared little what hard words it earned them even when 
they were still alive to hear ; and who had no leisure 
to feel uneasy about the figure they would present to 
posterity. If posterity has been unfair to them, it can- 
not be denied that, in one important respect, they brought 
their fate upon themselves. Tradition and literature in 
the United States have judged the men of the past 
favourably, or harshly, according as their attitude 
towards Washington was friendly, or the reverse ; and 
there were long periods when many Congressmen spent 
all the time which they could spare from their executive 
duties in intriguing against their own Commander-in- 
Chief. That is a circumstance which American patriots 
can never forget, nor easily bring themselves to pardon. 
The balance of posthumous justice has inclined unduly 
against the Congressmen as a class ; but, even so, there 
is a certain satisfaction in noting that, once at least 
in the course of the world, some people have been 
properly, although perhaps excessively, punished for 
declining to recognise and welcome a great man when 
they were fortunate enough to possess one. 

When a later generation sits in judgment upon any 
famous combination of individuals who exercised autho- 
rity during a great crisis in the past, — whether it be 
the Roman Senate, or the States-General of Holland in 
the contest against Philip the Second, or the Spanish 
Cortes during Napoleon's invasion of the Peninsula, — 
there is a natural tendency to leave out of view the 
successful results which were brought about by their 



energy and zeal, and to devote an altogether dispropor- 
tionate attention to their mistakes, their imperfections, 
and their failures. Scandals and confusions are never 
absent where executive business is carried on, not by 
the silent written injunctions of a responsible minister, 
but in hot debate, and by open vote. A general or 
an administrator, who keeps his own counsel and who 
knows his own mind, may effectually conceal from 
public observation all the less admirable qualities of 
intellect and temper which are inevitably and unpleas- 
ingly conspicuous in the transactions of a popular 
assembly ; and those defects were plentiful and promi- 
nent in the American Congress. 

Samuel Adams was the most powerful of all Con- 
gressmen. He had aroused Massachusetts, — and, 
through Massachusetts, every other of the thirteen 
colonies, — into rebellion against the Crown ; but in his 
own case the spirit of opposition, and the passion for 
independence, did not limit themselves to a quarrel with 
George the Third and George the Third's ministers. 
Samuel Adams, from boyhood to old age, was aglow with 
inextinguishable ambition ; but he was ambitious for an 
idea. His political Utopia consisted in government by 
a representative assembly which should not delegate 
executive authority to anyone outside its walls, but 
should conduct even the smallest details of administra- 
tion through the direct personal agency of its own 
members. That was the day-dream of his youth, which 
during seven years of his later manhood he converted 
into a living reality. To enforce that view he had long 
ago used, with extraordinary dexterity, the New Eng- 
land institution of the Town-meeting. He disseminated 
his doctrines far and wide in the congenial soil of the 
Northern colonies, where he persuaded the electors to 
fill the Provincial Assemblies with men who belonged 
to his own school of politics. The ablest of these 
associates accompanied him into Congress ; and he was 
there surrounded by allies and disciples sworn to dis- 
courage the appointment of official placemen, and to 


check the growth of any non-elective civilian or mili- 
tary hierarchy within the Republic, quite as jealously 
and watchfully as they resisted the encroachments of 
the British Parliament and the Royal Prerogative from 

Congress, at the beginning of its career, discharged 
honestly those high duties which it had fearlessly 
assumed. In a representative body, which keeps too 
much public business in its hands, public money is apt 
to stick to the fingers of the less respectable members ; 
but, during the earlier years of the Revolution, pecula- 
tion and embezzlement were not safe and easy trades 
in an atmosphere impregnated by the austere influence 
of Samuel Adams. Primitive in the strictness and 
plainness of his life, and so indifferent to gain that he 
incurred reproach among his fellow-townsmen as a bad 
provider for his family, he was incorruptible himself, 
and a terror to those who in the matter of corruption 
would gladly have been evil-doers. From the first 
there was some tendency among the delegates at 
Philadelphia towards the system of mutual good offices 
which, in the less stately nomenclature of modern 
politics, is called log-rolling ; but that tendency pre- 
vailed as between State and State, and not as between 
man and man.^ It may be fairly claimed that Congress, 
in its earlier sessions, would not suffer by a comparison, 
on the score of purity, with some very reputable and 

^ The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States^ 
Edited Under Direction of Congress by Francis Wharton. The account 
of Samuel Adams in V^harton's Introduction is an admirable specimen of 
condensed political biography. 

'■^ Washington complained that, in consequence of the intimate under- 
standing which existed among the Eastern States, high appointments in 
the army went almost exclusively to New Englanders ; and John Adams 
regretted that Congress had voted the purchase in Philadelphia of 
clothing for the troops, which might probably have been got cheaper in 
New York. He spoke with disapprobation of the private friendships and 
enmities, the provincial views and partialities, which intermingled in the 
consultations. "These," he said, "are degrees of corruption. They are 
deviations from the pubUc interest, and from rectitude." 


self-satisfied Parliaments in less disturbed times, and 
in older countries. 

In later stages of the war the obstinate determina- 
tion of Congressmen to monopolise the functions of 
administration was productive of inconveniences and 
misadventures. The arrangement at last broke down, 
and was reformed in some important particulars; but 
it was not ill adapted to the unforeseen and unprece- 
dented situation of the country during that period 
which immediately followed upon the outbreak of 
hostilities. For, in the first place, a dominant and 
potent central assembly afforded the rallying-point for 
a number of separate communities, unaccustomed to 
work together in common, and strongly affected by 
local prejudices and aims. Through the instrumentality 
of Congress, (as has been well remarked,) the States 
were kept in touch with one another in a manner that 
had never before been possible ; and men learned to 
recognise broader interests than those which were 
bounded by narrow State lines. And again, when all 
has been said for and against, the fact remains that 
Congress, in the spring of 1775, had no choice but to 
assume full and instant responsibility for the entire 
public administration. The war swooped down, like 
a thunder-cloud in summer, upon a society unequipped 
and unorganised, — with no army, no fleet, no accepted 
methods of national action, and no machinery of 
national finance. An enormous and multifarious mass 
of work had to be undertaken at once, and pushed 
forward at des|)crate speed. The most capable men 
in America found themselves gathered together on the 
spot, with a large supply of energy to s{)are over and 
above that which was required for the purposes of 
legislation. Each great Department was entrusted to 
a Committee numbering from four to ten members, 
who, at the beginning, were taken from the flower of 
the Assembly. The most industrious and celebrated 
of these bodies were known as the Board of War and 
Ordnance ; the Board of Treasury ; the Committee of 


the Navy ; and the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 
which ultimately was developed into the Committee of 
Foreign Affairs. Congress governed by means of pro- 
cesses very similar to those adopted by our own Long 
Parliament, and by the National Assembly of France 
in the agony of civil dissension and foreign war which 
in the Spring of 1792 convulsed and assailed that 
country. Such processes, unconstitutional in theory, 
but passably effective in practice, carried the American 
Republic safe through her first and most serious perils, 
and have procured for their authors an occasional 
tribute of sincere, though carefully measured, gratitude. 
" The memory of the Continental Congress," (so writes 
a discerning historian,) ''is bound up with that portion 
of our national history which we contemplate with 
peculiar pride ; with the sacrifices and the sufferings, 
more cruel than the grave, of the eight years of war ; 
with the poverty, and the struggles, of the six years 
of peace that preceded the organisation of the Federal 
Government. The republics which the Long Parlia- 
ment and the National Assembly set up have long since 
disappeared from the face of the earth. The republic 
which the Continental Congress set up still endures."^ 
Congress had taken an immense burden on to 
shoulders which were none too broad ; for it bore yet 
another resemblance to the Long Parliament, and the 
French Convention, in the circumstance that it became 
a smaller and smaller body as time went on. In this 
case, however, the diminution arose from less sinister 
causes. The ranks of the American Assembly were not 
depleted by the guillotine, or by such drastic operations 
as Pride's Purge. The need of administrative ability, 
and patriotic devotion, was so imperative in so many 
quarters that men of force and talent were freely with- 
drawn from senatorial duties in order to serve their 
country elsewhere, and in other capacities. Before 
the close of 1776 Benjamin Franklin had sailed for 
France as Commissioner at the Court of King Louis. 

1 Paper on the Continental Congress^ by Herbert Friedenwald. 


Eminent Congressmen, all the American Continent over, 
were governing provinces, leading troops in battle, or 
fulfilling special missions of great moment and pro- 
tracted duration. Some delegates remained at their 
distant homes from want of sympathy with the Revolu- 
tion, and others because they were fairly bewildered 
and frightened by the portentous labours which awaited 
them in Philadelphia. After the first eighteen months 
of war the numbers present on the benches never rose 
above five-and-thirty, and sometimes fell as low as 
twenty-three. There were, moreover, not a few Con- 
gressmen who, — while they were glad enough, on a 
pretext of public duty, to take up their temporary 
residence in the most luxurious of American cities, — 
had discovered that Philadelphia contained more agree- 
able resorts than the hall at the Kast end of her State- 
house. Northern members alleged that some delegates 
from beyond the Potomac, "immersed in the pursuit 
of pleasure," insisted that Congress should not meet 
till nine in the morning, never came near the j^lace till 
eleven, and then consumed what was left of the sitting 
by an exhibition of that facile Southern eloquence which 
already began to pall upon colleagues who hailed from 
colder and sterner latitudes.^ The evil was incapable 
of cure ; inasmuch as the Chair had no authority to 
compel attendance, and private remonstrances against 
idleness and loquacity had to be very cautiously 
worded when addressed to a high-mettled gentle- 
man from Georgia or Virginia. And so it came about 
that an inordinate share of drudgery was imposed 
upon a scanty band of members wiio manned all the 
Committees, and very seldom missed an hour of the 
proceedings in Congress. ** This service," (one of them 
wrote,) " is too severe. I have had the weight of North 
Carolina on my shoulders within a day or two of three 
months. I have sat some days from six in the morning 
till five, and sometimes six, of an afternoon ; and often 
without eating and drinking." "The papers," (so 

1 Titus Hosmer to Jonathan Trumbull ; Philadelphia, Aug. 31, 1778. 


another letter ran,) " will inform you that I have been 
thrust into Congress. I find there is a great deal of dif- 
ference between sporting a sentiment on politics over a 
glass of wine, and discharging the duty of a senator." ^ 
The work of Congress was supplemented by the 
independent exertions of minor senates, planted down 
at intervals throughout the extensive area which the 
rebellion covered. Each State possessed its Assembly ; 
and every Assembly acted not only as a Legislative 
body, but as a local Committee of Public Safety for 
promoting the cause of the Revolution. The Tories 
had circulated letters, which purported to emanate 
from Lord Howe, exhorting voters ** to send only 
King's friends " to the Assemblies; but the author of 
that appeal, whether he was Lord Howe or another, 
proved to be no match at electioneering for Samuel 
Adams and his emissaries. Almost all the representa- 
tives who were chosen, and all who ventured to put in 
an appearance and take part in the deliberations, were 
staunch opponents of the King's Government. Whether 
their work lay in Congress, or at the capitals of their 
respective States, the public men of America had their 
fill of business. Hurrying from the Committee-room to 
the Council-chamber, and back again to their Committee 
when the debate was over ; chafing under dull, and still 
more impatiently under flowery, speeches ; sitting 
through the summer when Philadelphia was made all 
but intolerable by '' the excessive heat of the sun reflected 
from the buildmgs and the pavements ; " or sitting 
through the winter at Fishkill, by the Hudson River, 
in a place of meeting so damp and cold that the New 
York Convention was fain to beg the iron stove from 
the Presbyterian Church at Albany; — such was their 
course of existence from year's end to year's end, and a 
hard life they found it. With no opportunity to earn a 
livelihood for the support of their absent families, they 
were unable to remit home a single dollar out of the 
wretched salaries on which they lodged and fed them- 

^ American Archives for July 1776. 


selves with ever-increasing difficulty as articles of con- 
sumption became scarcer, and paper money more 
disastrously abundant. ^ But their patriotism never 
flagged. They laboured fiercely, and they achieved 
much, though not always by the most judicious means, 
or exactly in the right direction. The States were 
often at cross-purposes with Congress, and not unfre- 
quently took steps which caused embarrassment at the 
headquarters of the army. Washington had occasion 
to remonstrate with the New York Convention for 
having confiscated for the use of their regiments twenty- 
six bales of clothing which were in course of transport 
to his camp at Morristown ; General Greene reported 
that certain local authorities, along the New England 
coast, encouraged the sea-service to the detriment of 
military recruiting, and that " the success of privateer- 
ing had set all the troops distracted ; " and oflficers who 
superintended the re-enlistments for the new army 
encountered technical difficulties of a very serious nature 
from the lavishness displayed by various provincial 
governments in the matter of bounties. The New Eng- 
land States agreed among themselves to add fifteen 
dollars to the sum of twenty dollars which Congress 
had voted; and Massachusetts, thinking nothing too 
good for a cultivator who would leave his farm to defend 
his country, offered double that increased amount of 
money to the rank and file in her own battalions. But 
the diffused energy which permeated the Confederacy, 
— during that season of preparation for an arduous, and 
probably a decisive, campaign, — seldom failed, even 
when misdirected, to produce some material effect in 
some important quarter. The flannels and woollens, on 

^ As early in the Revolution as December 1776, at the time when 
Congress had taken refuge at Baltimore, a Rhode Island delegate wrote 
home that he was obliged to pay six dollars a week for his board. 
" Every article of living," he said, *' has been doubled within a year or 
two. I ask no more from the State than to give me a decent support 
while I am in its service." A Congressman at Philadelphia described 
himself as unable to spare a simple dav, in the course of nine months, 
**for a little excursion into the country " to visit his family. 


which the New York Convention had laid hands, kept 
the cold from one set of Republican soldiers, instead of 
from another ; the liberal bounties voted by Massachusetts 
enabled husbands and fathers to feel that the children 
would have enough to eat while they themselves were 
on the march to Saratoga ; and, though the mariners of 
Salem and Providence might have done good service in 
Washington's ranks, they were more useful still on board 
the cruisers which kept the war going by their captures 
of military stores, and of mercantile cargoes that were 
sold for the relief of what otherwise would, from time 
to time, have been an empty Treasury. 

Never before had so minute a number of men, so 
little trained to public affairs, been confronted by such 
a multitude of formidable operations which had all to be 
taken in hand simultaneously under dire penalties. The 
Congressmen of 1776 and 1777 handled some matters 
very badly ; but they faced difficulties and dangers, as 
fast as they arose, with business-like promptitude ; and 
they attacked one question of high administration after 
another, and sometimes ten of a morning, with hearty 
zest and unfailing self-confidence. In the course of 
nineteen months they framed and promulgated four 
successive army-systems ; each of which, in spite of 
grave defects, had at least this merit about it, that it 
produced some sort of army. They were entirely unac- 
quainted with the royal courts of Europe, and had no 
personal relations with any European statesman ; they 
were served abroad by envoys some of whom spoke no 
language except English, or so much as understood the 
meaning of the word " Protocol ;" and yet they pushed 
their advances in every quarter, and were deterred by 
no rebuff. They were vigilant in their dealings with the 
Indians both beyond and within the frontier ; punishing 
murderous inroads with exemplary, if sometimes tardy, 
severity ; and conciliating the friendly and neutral tribes 
by the careful observance of ceremonies and customs 
which were much more familiar to their own experience 
than the etiquette of an Austrian or a Spanish palace. 


The officer whom they selected as their representative 
at an Indian interview was invariably conversant with 
the stately formalities, and the figurative language of 
solemn compliment, which the occasion demanded ; and, 
when the conference was satisfactorily concluded, he 
could play the host, without any outward signs of re- 
pugnance, at the head of an overloaded table. ^ They 
managed, and mismanaged, the Republican finances ; 
apportioning taxation between the States ; voting enor- 
mous supplies of money, if that word could be applied 
to the Continental paper; and negotiating loans of very 
much more restricted amounts, but indefinitely greater 
purchasing power, at Paris, at Amsterdam, and, — by 
the exercise of almost superhuman importunity and 
pertinacity, — even at Madrid. When the value of the 
government notes began to fall, (which occurred almost 
as soon as the ink upon them was dry,) Congress, in its 
ignorant optimism, believed itself to have discovered a 
remedy in the fixing of a tariff for commodities. Salt 
was to be sold at eight shillings a bushel, and Bohea tea 
at three shillings a pound ; and tradesmen were warned 
that, if they asked more for their goods than the regu- 
lation prices, or if they insisted on being paid in silver 
dollars, " they might depend upon being held up as ene- 
mies to their country, without respect of persons." 

* Major Henry Livingston, of the Third New York Continental 
Line, gives a curious account of a meeting with the Chiefs of the 
Caghnawaga nation, which had lately been approached by Governor 
Carleton of Canada with an t>ffer of the English alliance. "In com- 
pliance with their custom," (the Major writes,) " I opened my business 
in a set formal si)eech, which was interpreted by a one-eyed Chief who 
understood English very well ; and they answered me with all that 
deliberation, firmness, and seriousness peculiar to the Indians. All this 
was done before dinner ; and it was well it happened so ; for after drink- 
ing eighteen bottles of Claret I question whether they would have talked 
as rationally as they did. I took especial care that each one had a full 
plate continually. Soup, beef, turkey, beans, potatoes ; — no matter how 
heterogeneous the mixture, it all went down. They seemed highly 
pleased, and told me that Mr. Carleton had often sent them belts, and 
made speeches to them, but had never dined with them." Mention is 
made elsewhere of two quarts of molasses being provided for the Indians 
between their meals. 


Whenever the delegates at Philadelphia could snatch 
half a day, or even half an hour, from the imperious 
demands of current business, they reverted, with an 
interest which never languished, to the discussion and 
settlement of the Articles of Confederation. That 
gigantic task occupied the spare moments of Congress 
for nearly six years from the middle of 1775 onwards; 
for it was nothing less than the construction, in all its 
parts, of a national constitution which, according to the 
expectation of its artificers, was to last during all time, 
and to overspread the whole of the North American 
Continent. Some schemes, very dear to the heart of 
Congressmen, in the end miscarried ; and much of their 
work was slipshod, but their rhetoric never. The loftiest 
sentiments, on every conceivable opportunity, were set 
forth to the world in impassioned phrases. A fragment 
of vigorous declamation against the greed of the Ger- 
man princes, and a really fine appeal to the natural 
feelings of the German people, formed the Preamble to a 
Resolution under which fifty acres of land were granted 
to any private soldier who deserted from a foreign 
regiment in British pay. The execution of this project 
was committed to Benjamin Franklin, who speedily had 
the eloquence of Congress translated into very plain and 
intelligible German, and printed inside the covers of 
parcels of tobacco, made up in imitation of those which 
were sold across the counter of a rural store. Franklin 
contrived that a number of these packets should fall into 
the hands of General Von Heister's foragers ; and the 
event showed that many a Hessian grenadier, as he 
ruminated over his pipe, had dwelt lovingly on the 
tempting offer which he found within the wrappers. 

From January to June of the year 1777 men were 
mustering and drilling in every township throughout the 
States ; but their increasing numbers brought into 
startling evidence the destitution of the Confederacy in 
most of the indispensable necessaries of war. Before 
hostilities commenced, the militia companies of some 


Colonies kept in store about as much ammunition as 
was required for firing salutes on the King's birthday ; 
and a year of sharp fighting had reduced the whole 
country to one and the same low level of military 
penury. In the summer of 1776 the New York Con- 
vention was informed that there remained only twenty 
hundred-weight of gunpowder in Albany County, and 
that Tryon County was still worse provided. The 
magazines in Virginia contained less than two tons of 
lead and ball ; and the Cherokees were on the war-path 
all along the frontier. Meanwhile the Revolutionary 
government owned no powder-mills, and no shot-furnaces 
or public laboratories ; and they had at their disposal a 
very miserable supply of the raw material which was 
essential for the purposes of warlike manufacture. But 
their young country swarmed with ingenious and enter- 
prising men, accustomed, in every department of life, 
to produce tolerably adequate results from rude and 
scanty means; — of whom some were ardent patriots, 
and others eager for gain ; while the larger number, 
without pretence at concealment, were actuated by a 
combination of those two very powerful motives. In- 
ventors and projectors were sure of obtaining a respect- 
ful and intelligent hearing from the Secret Committee 
of Congress, and from the Pennsylvanian Committee of 
Safety ; both of which bodies entered upon their work 
under the guidance of Benjamin Franklin, — that master 
in the science of applying the study of natural philosophy 
to everyday uses. Outside Philadelphia, however, the 
authorities had still something to learn in practical 
chemistry. The Massachusetts Assembly had agreed to 
buy up all the saltpetre within their borders at a stated, 
and unduly handsome, price; when '* a simple country- 
man " brought them a specimen of his own domestic 
manufacture, and promised that more could be made 
in eight months than the province had money to pay 
for. This native genius explained that the accumula- 
tion of earth and refuse beneath an old barn, or disused 
dwelling or out-house, was a mine of nitre for all who 


knew how to work up the material by a short and cheap 
method of treatment. These facts were already no 
secret to the Pennsylvanian Committee, who, when the 
war broke out, had summoned two competent persons 
from each county throughout the State, taught them the 
process, and sent them home to instruct their neigh- 
bours. The administrators of every Northern colony, 
before very long, had offers of more saltpetre than they 
cared to purchase;^ and further South, — most fortu- 
nately for a population which was not industrial, and 
exceedingly bellicose, — the precious substance already 
existed in the natural state. Beyond the Potomac, (so 
it was officially reported,) there were " caverns of Salt- 
petre, which had hitherto been wasted by salting meat." 
People were soon making dams, and building races, on 
the smaller rivers ; or converting the flour-mills into 
powder-mills wherever the demand was exceptionally 
urgent.^ Close attention was given to the quality, as 
well as the quantity, of the finished product ; and in 
Connecticut, particularly, manufacturers whose powder 
carried short were recalled to good behaviour by the 
very serious threat that their delinquencies would be 
brought to the notice of Governor Trumbull. 

Lead was yet more scarce than powder, and could 
be procured only at heavy cost, and by painful sacri- 
fices. The citizens of Philadelphia, in July 1776, 
" spared the weights from their windows to be run 
into ball ; " and the Pennsylvanian Committee of 
Safety, — in full sympathy with a methodical and 
punctual community which could ill dispense with 
knowing the time of day, — ordered the construction of 
moulds for the casting of clock-weights in iron, to be 

^ " I was somewhat non-plussed to find that I was appointed, with 
yourself, a Committee for purchasing Saltpetre manufactured within this 
Colony. People are bringing saltpetre to me, and expect to be paid in 
cash. I have bought fifty hundred-weight of one man, who made fourteen 
pounds of it out of three bushels of earth." That was written by a citizen 
of Goshen, in the State of New York. 

2 " Proposals of Elisha Tyson, in Baltimore County, Maryland, eighteen 
miles from Baltimore Town, and three from Joppa." American Archives^ 


exchanged with the inhabitants as substitutes for their 
clock-weights of lead. Next went the water-spouts, 
the ornaments on house-fronts, and the angels' heads 
and heraldic shields at the top of the rain-pipes of the 
more important family-mansions. All these objects 
were honestly bought and paid for ; but in less scru- 
pulous cities lead was taken without compensation, and 
by a more summary procedure. The Sons of Liberty 
in New York confiscated Tory cisterns, and stripped 
Tory roofs ; and melted into bullets King George's 
equestrian effigy, together with the founts of type 
which Mr. James Rivington, as editor and owner of the 
" Gazette," had so often used in defense of King 
George's policy. As the war progressed, lead mines 
were discovered and worked in American soil ; and a 
brisk traffic in the metal was carried on with England 
at the expense of what, in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, was among the most beautiful of 
English arts. Dealers bought up, for surreptitious 
exportation to the rebellious colonies, the graceful, soft- 
featured leaden figures which then, in great profusion, 
decorated the garden-terraces and the courtyards of 
our country-houses. The i)rimitive and elementary 
character of the difficulties with which the managers of 
the American Revolution were condemned to grapple 
is curiously illustrated by the dearth of so ordinary an 
article as the paper required for the manufacture of 
their cartridges. An edition of the German Bible, 
unbound and in sheets, which formed part of the stock 
in trade of a Loyalist printer in the suburbs of 
Philadelphia, found its way into the cartouche-boxes of 
Washington's infantry. There were parishes in which, 
when a hostile incursion was supposed to be imminent, 
the leaves of vestry-books, and other Church-records, 
were used by the minute-men in the preparation of 
their ammunition ; and local traditions of Bibles and 
hymn-books being torn up for wadding are as gener- 
ally prevalent throughout the States as the belief that 
Oliver Cromwell's troopers littered their horses in the 


aisle of the Cathedral is common in ancient English 
cities. Requisitions for quires of paper, and pounds 
of thread, poured in upon the Board of War from 
the fighting armies, and were sometimes worded in 
terms of passionate entreaty. America, (said Edmund 
Burke,) loyal and docile in the hand of wise English 
ministers, had formerly been governed ** by paper and 
a little pack-thread." Downing Street, in an evil hour, 
changed the policy of Sir Robert Walpole, and Mr. 
Secretary Pitt, for more arbitrary theories of 
colonial administration ; and paper and pack-thread 
were now put to other, and less pacific, uses. 

The practical American intellect fixed itself tena- 
ciously on every point of prime consequence, however 
humble and inglorious that point might appear in the 
eyes of an administrator of the Old World, and of the old 
school. Throughout the last half of the nineteenth 
century the mechanism of fire-arms' continuously ex- 
ercised the scientific faculties of all the leading na- 
tions ; but in the eighteenth century the efficiency of 
the musket depended mainly on the quality of the flint. 
That commodity, at any rate, was of home-growth in 
the colonies ; and there was no limit to the trouble 
which Congressmen took in order to secure for their 
troops the very best that ingenuity could discover. 
The correspondence on this subject was for some 
months considerable in bulk ; and information and 
advice arrived in Philadelphia from many parts of the 
Confederacy. In every district there were sportsmen 
who went out shooting in all weathers ; who held a 
decided opinion on the means of preventing missfires, 
and of securing an instantaneous ignition of the charge ; 
and who were not in the least afraid of telling their 
mind freely to those men of their own class, and within 
the circle of their own acquaintance, who for the time 
being were governors of the country. Letters passed 
to and fro, discussing the comparative merits of the red 
flint, ''far exceeding anything imported from Europe;" 
the green flint, which was '' harder than the common 



sort, and would fire oftener without sharpening ; " and 
the yellow flint, wherewith, in prc-colonial days, the 
aboriginal inhabitants had been wont to head their 
arrows. Congress finally decided on the black flint, 
usually found with lime-stone, " a prodigious fine vein " 
of which was soon reported to exist in the neighbour- 
hood of Ticonderoga. Thirty thousand specimens were 
despatched to Washington's camp ; and the Republi- 
can generals exerted infinite watchfulness, and some 
severity, to ensure that the private soldiers did not 
misuse the excellent article with which they had been 
so providently furnished. The forethought and dili- 
gence of the Revolutionary statesmen wore justified by 
the result ; as their most obser\'ant adversaries, in all 
ranks of the British army, emphatically acknowledged. 
A very able and gallant field-officer of an luiglish line 
regiment put on record his bitter regret that the valour 
of his soldiers was so often " rendered vain by the 
badness of a pebble-stone." He indignantly exclaimed 
against a War Office which neglected to fit the musket 
of battle with the black flint which a country gentle- 
man in ICngland carried in the hammer of his fowling- 
piece, and related how he had overheard British pri- 
vates saying among themselves that a Yankee flint was 
as good as a glass of grog.^ 

When all that native effort could accomplish had been 
done for the equipment of the Continental regiments, 
one want remained unsatisfied which Congress was 

^ A Military Miscellany, by the Hon. Colonel Colin Lindsay of the 
46th Rogiinent : Ix)n(lon, 1796. In a note to the passage (juoted Colonel 
Lindsay says : •' It is now thirteen years since this was written, yet the 
flints are as bad as ever." 

Much that is interesting on this head is given in the fourth Chaj>ter 
of The Private Soldier under Washington, by Charles Knowles Bolton ; 
New York, 1902. A good American flint was supposed to fire sixty rounds 
without needing to be re-sharpened ; which, according to Colonel Lindsay, 
was just ten times the amount of service that could with any confidence 
be expected from those used in European armies. It is worth remarking 
that Colonel Hawker, in his celebrated and fascinating treatise on(juns 
and Shooting, pronounces in favour of " the most transparent ol the 
common black stones." 


powerless to meet. In the summer of 1776 every re- 
source was exhausted in order to arm the host which 
Washington had gathered round him at New York ; 
and the whole Confederacy was ransacked for guns, 
amidst pitiful remonstrances from people who were 
fondly attached to their weapons, and who in many cases 
lived, exposed and defenceless, in daily and nightly ap- 
prehension of an Indian onslaught. ^ The country had 
been swept bare of muskets for the benefit of the army ; 
and most of those muskets entirely disappeared in the 
course of the six months of disastrous warfare which 
commenced with the defeat on Long Island. Many of 
the guns were hand-made, on varying patterns, by the 
village blacksmiths ; and, when any of them happened 
to be damaged on the march or in action, there was noth- 
ing in store wherewith to replace the parts which had 
been lost or broken.^ Several thousands of the best 
firelocks were captured by the British at Fort Wash- 
ington ; and each of the militiamen, who left for their 
homes in crowds after the hard weather had once set in, 
carried off his musket with him, for no better reason 
than because he was loth to part with it. '* Nothing," 
wrote Washington in February 1777, "distresses me 
more than the universal call that is upon me, from all 
quarters, for fire-arms which I am totally unable to sup- 
ply. The scandalous loss, waste, and private appropria- 
tion, of public arms during the last campaign are beyond 
all conception." The provincial assemblies set their local 
tradesmen to work on the production of an article "as 

1 Congress, all through July 1776, was bombarded with complaints 
from the districts which had been stripped of their arms and ammunition. 
" We have no suitable guns," said a North Carolinian, " for the defence 
of our wives and our little ones, as we were obliged to furnish the army 
with our best arms." "We could supply all Europe with gun-flints;" 
(so a citizen of New Jersey wrote) ; '* but we want none of the flints here. 
You may have them all; for we have no powder, which gives great un- 
easiness to our people, as we expect an Indian war if our forces fail to 
the Northward. I pray you would order us some powder, if it were but a 
quarter of a pound each man. Now we have nothing but our sticks and 
axes. " 

2 The Private Soldier under [Vashington ; Chapter IV. 



near as could be had in imitation of the arms called 
King's muskets ; " but the manufacturing capabilities 
of America were limited, and contracts could seldom be 
given out for more than a hundred weapons at a time. 
Such fire-arms as might be bought in Europe were of 
very poor quality. A customer, who is known to be in 
difficulties, cannot hope to be served with the pick of 
the market ; and the Committee of War at Philadelphia 
was specifically cautioned ** not to trust to the ordinary 
muskets of commerce, which were almost as dangerous 
to friends as to enemies." ^ 

Weeks rolled on ; the weather mended ; the roads 
hardened, and Washington was in hourly expectation of 
hearing that Sir William Howe had begun to advance 
along them ; and yet the American infantry was still 
only half-armed with inferior weapons. But meanwhile 
Silas Deane had been busy in Paris ; and his plan of 
operations was settled, and pursued, in concert with Caron 
de Beaumarchais, the most knowing and dexterous of 
living Parisians. Certain armourers in the great French 
cities were allowed to purchase from the Royal Arsenal 
thirty thousand muskets of the model of 1763, at twenty- 
three francs apiece ; and Louis the Sixteenth's min- 
isters were perfectly well aware that these favoured 
tradesmen did not buy the goods in order to dress their 
shop-fronts. The whole consignment was after a while 
on the high seas, packed beneath the hatches of three 
merchantmen. One of their number was accounted for 
by the British cruisers ; but, in the course of March 
1777, a vessel sailed into the mouth of the Delaware 
with eleven thousand stand of arms on board ; and an- 
other, (which rumour had reported as lost,) unloaded " a 
cargo of about twelve thousand fusees, and one thousand 
barrels of powder," at Portsmouth in New Hampshire. 
A share of the muskets was straightway allotted to 

^ Letter to Franklin from Paris ; June 10, 1776. American Archives, 
General Heath told Washington that some of the muskets purchased 
by Massachusetts were scandalously bad. " Colonel Crafts," (he wrote,) 
" informs me that of thirty-three which he proved, sixteen burst. I 
suppose them to have been made for the Guinea Trade." 


every State in proportion to the number of battalions 
which it contributed to the national army ; and Wash- 
ington expressed himself as ** put out of all further 
uneasiness " with respect to as grave a cause for anxiety 
as ever vexed a general.^ 

1 Washington to Governor Cooke of Rhode Island ; Morristown, 
Aprils, 1777. 

The foregoing account of the labours undertaken by Congress, and the 
Provincial Assemblies, is based on materials gathered from very many 
sources ; but the principal authority is the collection entitled The 
Ajnerican Archives, Prepared and Published under an Act of Congress. 
Those vast volumes include thousands of letters written in racy and un- 
varnished style, and often by poorly educated men. The governments of 
France and Germany testify to their pride in a Frederic or a Napoleon 
by the minute official care with which the public correspondence of those 
great military leaders and administrators has been preserved, arranged, 
and elucidated. America, on her part, when engaged in the compilation 
of her records, has given grateful recognition to the fact that the energy, 
the homely ability, and the quiet patient courage, of countless obscure 
citizens supplied the living force which carried her struggle for national 
existence to a successful issue. 



The military market in America had for some time 
past been flooded with French exports of much more 
questionable value than regulation muskets of a recent 
pattern. Ever since July 1776 Silas Deane of Con- 
necticut was established at Paris as the business agent 
of the Revolutionary government. Deane had begun 
life "in the usual New England way by keeping 
school ; " he subsequently practised law, and made 
money by trade ; and he had sat in Congress long 
enough to be only too intimately acquainted with the 
interior springs which moved the machine of adminis- 
tration at Philadelphia. He was a man of striking 
manners and good appearance, accustomed to live 
generously and to entertain in a liberal style, and much 
addicted to showy equipages and appointments ; but 
he could not write French at all, nor speak it with any 
fluency.^ Devoid of that all-essential accomplishment, 
and endowed with those perilous social ambitions and 
personal tastes, when left to himself in a foreign capital 
he was the appointed prey of the charlatan and the 
intriguer. He was a judge of firearms, and Beau- 
marchais was always at hand to help him in procuring 
them ; but, when it came to testing and selecting men, 
his new French friend was a most unsafe guide. Deane 
was open to flatterv, and too fond of the dinners and 
suppers without which business then was seldom trans- 
acted in Paris ;^ and he was totally incapable, by his 

^ Wharton's Introduction to the Diplomatic Correspondence of the 
Revolution ; Chapter XIII. 

2 Letter from the Duke of Richmond to Edmund Burke, Esq. ; Paris, 
Aug. 26, 1776. 




own unassisted observation, of noting the signs which 
distinguish an adventurer from a man of honour. 

Deane was soon surrounded by speculators and in- 
ventors, and by soldiers of fortune whose rapacity 
was shameless, and whose martial pretensions affected 
officers of merit and experience with a feeling nothing 
short of nausea. A famous chemist, encumbered with 
a wife and four children, and loaded with clamorous 
debts, who would not engage himself to pass over into 
the New World until he had twenty thousand French 
crowns to clear his property, and secure the future of 
his family ; a person of title, formerly employed in the 
Royal Manufactory of Arms, and now involved in a 
troublesome lawsuit, who " had formed a plan for forc- 
ing a passage through the cruisers of the English 
marine, if the Colonies would advance him two or three 
millions of francs for such a decisive object;" and two 
Irish officers, of whom one had enjoyed unusual credit 
and influence as aide-de-camp to a Marshal of France, 
and the other, (a counterpart, apparently, in everything 
except his nationality, of Robert Clive,) had beaten the 
English in India while only a captain, — these were 
specimens of the motley crew who presented themselves 
to the notice of the American government as gentle- 
men of the first rank and eminence in their respective 
countries. The most prominent among them was a 
Monsieur Ducoudray, the son of a wine-merchant in 
Brittany, who had served, not very high up, as an 
officer in the French artillery, but who appeared at 
Philadelphia in the character of a Brigadier General, 
and a noble of ancient birth. ^ He was armed with an 
agreement, dictated by himself, and signed by Silas 

1 Memoir of September 12, 1777, in the Appendix to the Fifth Chapter 
of the Third Volume of Henri Doniol's Diplomatic Correspondence. This 
Memoir was composed by a French officer, one of Lafayette's companions, 
who never spells Ducoudray in the same way twice running ; as was nat- 
ural in the case of a name not familiar to genuine members of the French 
nobility. Washington, who had occasion to write that name much more 
often thaji was agreeable to him, spells it as given in the text ; and his 
version may be allowed to pass muster. 


Deane under the advice of Beaumarchais, in virtue of 
which he claimed the rank of Major General in the 
American army, and Commander-in-Chief of the Artil- 
lery and Engineers ; with a staff consisting of an Adju- 
tant, two aides-de-camp, and a secretary and designer; 
thirty-six thousand francs a year of pay and allowances ; 
and, when the war ended, a gratuity of three hundred 
thousand francs, or a pension for life of half his emolu- 
ments. Ducoudray further announced that he would 
soon be followed across the sea by a hundred of his old 
brother-ofificers. A first instalment had already arrived 
in the persons of six captains and twelve lieutenants, 
with brevet commissions from the French government 
carrying a date which gave them seniority over every 
native American of their own rank throughout the 
entire Continental army. 

John Adams spoke in grave disapprobation of 
" Mr. Deanc's mad contract with Monsieur du Coudray 
and his hundred officers." ^ These gentlemen, and their 
fellows, belonged to a species very easily recognised by 
students of the old Roman, and the Elisabethan, come- 
dies. Pyrgopolinices and Thraso, Bobadil and Parolles, 
might be seen, on any fine afternoon of May or June 
1777, swaggering up and down Chestnut Street and 
Market Street in dingy white uniforms, amidst the grow- 
ing aversion and indignation of Philadelphia. Almost 
all of them were loaded with debt ; and some had left 
their own army in disgrace. The worst came from the 
French colonies ; bearing letters of recommendation in 
which they were introduced as officers with unblemished 
reputations and splendid careers; "brave as their 
swords ; in short, as mere Caesars, each of whom was 
an invaluable acquisition to America."^ Those letters 

1 Diary of John Adams for April 1778. 

2 That is how Franklin described the style of these military testi- 
monials. The Memoir by a French officer of September 12 is very 
outspoken about the characters of French applicants for commissions in 
the American army, and exceedingly severe upon those who recom- 
mended them for employment. 



were signed by the Governors of Martinique and Guade- 
loupe with a sense of profound relief and satisfaction ; 
but their perusal evoked very different sentiments in 
the breast of Washington. He already had suffered 
much from the class of foreign officers who impose 
themselves upon the credulity and inexperience of 
a nation of civilians during the first few months of an 
unexpected war. An American court-martial had re- 
cently cashiered a certain Major Zedwitz who, (by his 
own account,) fought under Frederic of Prussia in the 
Seven Years' War, dined for five consecutive months at 
Lord Granby's table, and was warmly urged by that 
nobleman to accept a commission in the British Army. 
But, all the same, while he was drawing pay from 
Congress, he wrote letters in abominable English to 
Governor Tryon and General Howe, asking them for 
two thousand pounds in order to buy them information 
about the strength of Washington's regiments ; ^ and 
Washington's followers remembered the incident with 
displeasure and disgust. The aspect and conduct of 
the first batches of foreigners, who arrived from the 
West Indian Islands, did nothing to remove that dis- 
agreeable impression ; and years had still to elapse 
before the heroism, the uprightness, and the soldierly 
zeal and knowledge, of Lafayette and Duportail, of 
Baron de Kalb and Baron Steuben, had earned the 
universal and immutable esteem of American officers 
for their French and German comrades. 

1 "Three days ago General Washington Send for me, and I would 
Translate a paper in good Hy German. The Contents are as follows. 
The Continental Congress promises every man of the Hessian troops 
wich Comes to this Armee 200 Akers of land and a Horse and a Kow ; 
besides a heape of Scurilious Expressions against the King. On the 20th 
I found four Fellows at the general's house, who proposed to spoil the 
British watering-place. They brought along 14 bottles of Stuff as Black 
as Ink. The general promised Every one ;,^iooo. Pleas to keep a good 
look out. This is at present all I am abel with Truth to write." The 
letter of Zedwitz, from which this passage is extracted, appears in the 
American Archives for August, 1776. There is a reference to the matter 
in Volume H., chapter 22, of Benson J. Lossing's Pictorial Field-book 
of the Revolution. 


At present, however, American military men of 
every grade, and in all the States, were offended and 
alarmed by the liberties which the American agent at 
Paris had taken with their professional interests and 
prospects. Many of them had raised their own com- 
panies, and even their own battahons ; spending freely 
out of their private means, and attending personally to 
details of recruiting which in Europe devolved upon 
the sergeants. They took pride in the consciousness 
that, when the commissioned ranks of the Continental 
army had been deliberately and unsparingly weeded of 
the weaker and baser elements, they themselves were 
judged worthy of being retained in the service of their 
country. Twenty-five months of frequent conflict, and 
constant hardship, had entitled them to the name of 
veterans ; and now they were to be passed in the race 
for promotion by strangers who could not give the word 
of command in the only language which private soldiers 
understood ; whose antecedents were often worse than 
dubious ; and who, in the best of cases, had not been 
under fire more often than themselves. " Without 
derogating in the least from the character of the French 
officers, there is strong reason to doubt whether they 
have seen as much real service as our own in the course 
of two campaigns." ^ That testimony was given by 
George Washington ; the warm friend, and unsought 
patron, of all brave and self-respecting men, of any 
nationality, who drew sword for America. 

Silas Deane, with ineffable folly, was at this time 
scheming to get the Commander-in-Chief of the American 
army superseded, and his functions transferred to the 
Comte de Broglie, — a restless, and not very successful, 
diplomatist, and a fifth-rate general. ^ Washington was 

^ Washington to the President of Congress ; 6th June, 1777. 

^ The Comte de Broglie was a younger brother of the famous Marshal. 
In a letter of December 1776 he thus states the terms on which he 
would consent to serve the American Confederacy. "You will content 
yourself with stipulating for a military authority for the person in ques- 
tion, who would unite the position of a General and President of the 



unaware of the plot, which would have troubled him 
very little had it been brought to his knowledge ; and 
he turned his attention to the rival claims of foreign 
and native officers with no thought of self, and with 
anxious consideration for the rights, and for the legiti- 
mate susceptibilities, of others. During six months of 
1777 that topic was the leading feature of his corre- 
spondence. He appealed to the good sense and modera- 
tion of any military men from Europe in whom he had 
reason to think that those qualities existed ; he pleaded 
the cause of his own countrymen respectfully, but most 
firmly and pertinaciously, in his official communications 
to the President of Congress ; he poured out his mind 
more liberally and vigorously to personal friends, and 
especially to Virginians, who had seats in that body; 
and he steadfastly refused even to contemplate the idea 
of throwing over Henry Knox for the sake of any 
artillery-man in the world.^ 

At length the politicians had an opportunity of 
learning how the soldiers felt on what was, before 
everything, a military question. Reports reached camp 
that Monsieur Ducoudray had been nominated Major 
General, with a commission so antedated as to give him 
seniority over every officer who had commanded a 
brigade of guns, or a division of infantry, at Trenton. 
Without waiting to ascertain how the fact stood, Greene, 
Knox, and Sullivan simultaneously wrote to Congress 

Council of War, with the title of Generalissimo, Field-Marshal, &c. Of 
course large pecuniary considerations would have to be obtained for the 
preparations for the journey, and for the journey itself; and a liberal 
salary for the return home." 

1 " Dear Sir, under the privilege of friendship, I take the liberty to 
ask you what Congress expect I am to do with the many foreigners they 
have at different times promoted to the rank of field-officers, and, (by the 
last Resolve,) two to that of colonels ? These men have no attachment 
nor ties to the country, further than interest binds them. They have no 
influence, and are ignorant of the language they are to receive and 
give orders in. Consequently great trouble, and much confusion, must 
follow." George Washington to Richard Henry Lee, Morristown, 
17 May, 1777; to Monsieur Malmedy, and to Major Colerus, May 16 
and 19 ; and to the President of Congress, February 20, May 16, and 
June 6, 1777. 


requesting that, if the rumour proved correct, they 
might have permission to retire from the army. Con- 
gress, as it could not very well help doing, passed a 
Resolution to the effect that the three letters constituted 
an invasion of the liberties of the people, and an un- 
justifiable attempt to influence the decisions of the 
people's representatives. But the warning had not 
been thrown away ; and, after guarding their dignity 
by a long and grave debate, the delegates at Philadelphia 
voted that it was inexpedient to ratify the treaty into 
which Mr. Deane had entered with Monsieur Ducoudray 
and his hundred officers.^ Willing to soften the blow, 
Congress proposed to appoint Ducoudray Inspector 
General of the American army ; but he had the spirit 
to decline an office which, under the circumstances, 
could be nothing beyond an empty title, and announced 
his intention of going to the front in the character of a 
volunteer. The end of his story, which was not long 
in coming, is told in a letter written by Baron de Kalb 
to the Comte de Broglie. " Monsieur de Coudray has 
just put the Congress much at ease by his death. He 
was going to join the army on the sixteenth September. 
Crossing a ferry over the Schuylkill River he did not 
choose to dismount, and, wishing to correct his too 
mettlesome animal, the horse jumped into the stream, 
and he was drowned like a schoolboy. The officers of 
his suite, conducting themselves with arrogance, and 
indulging in scandal, will, I think, be dismissed dis- 
contented." It was a dispensation, (said John Adams,) 
which would save a good deal of quarrelling. The 
fate of poor Ducoudray ranks with the capture of 
Charles Lee as one of the mercies which befell the 
American Republic in the outward semblance of a 
startling and unforeseen calamity.^ 

1 Note to a letter of July 12, 1777, in the Writings of George 

^ Ducoudray's death is related in Adams's Diary for the i8th Septem- 
ber 1777; in De Kalb's letter to Broglie ; and in the closing paragraph 
of the sixth chapter of Doniol's second volume. 


During the long period of anticipation which inter- 
vened between the two campaigns there was everywhere 
a sense of extraordinary excitement in the air. Both 
political parties instinctively felt that a paramount crisis 
was at hand ; and both political parties were confident 
that their own side would win. The Loyalists in the 
Eastern and Central States showed themselves eager 
and busy, although their activity was productive of 
satisfaction to themselves rather than of solid advantage 
to their cause. They cut down Liberty Poles; they 
talked of blowing up powder mills ; and in the upland 
districts of New York State they marched about after 
nightfall with guns and pistols, ate a great deal of 
porridge and butter-milk at Tory farmhouses, shot a 
lieutenant through the arm, and ran away as soon as 
they came in contact with a detachment of Governor 
Clinton's militiamen.^ They treated with contempt, 
(and none can blame them,) the edicts of Congress 
which fixed the price of goods and gave a forced 
currency to Government paper. "Tory customers," 
(we are told,) '' with a hankering after the East Indian 
herb, would pay nine or ten shillings a pound for any- 
thing which resembled it in smell or taste." Some 
sound Whigs, who went marketing with a handful of 
Continental dollar notes, had their money refused by 
a Tory tradesman ; while they themselves were ejected 
from the shop as " good-for-nothing rascals," and were 
informed that, if they wanted redress, they might carry 

1 Public Papers of George Clinton, with an Introduction by Hugh 
Hastings, State Historian of the State of New York: Volume I.; docu- 
ments relating to April and May, 1777. 

Some of the instances quoted in these paragraphs refer to the months 
that preceded Trenton. Towards the end of the war an advertisement 
appeared in the newspapers informing the gentlemen who, on the 17th of 
September 1776, supped at the late widow de la Montaigne's after taking 
down the Liberty Pole, that the bill for their supper, and their liquor, 
still remained undischarged ; and that they would do well " to sell the iron 
that was about the pole, and pay their bill, as otherwise the names of all 
those who supped on that occasion would be published for the informa- 
tion of American citizens." 


their grievance to the Committee of Public Safety.^ 
A company of gentlemen at Albany dined together 
on the Fourth of June, and drank Happy Returns to 
King George, instead of waiting till that day month, 
and drinking Long Life to the new-born Republic. 
Loyalists in Massachusetts ** showed all possible friend- 
ship to the Highland officers who had been captured, 
and allowed their own brave countrymen to be styled 
rebels at table without animadverting on the indecency." 
In South Carolina, when the savages spread desolation 
all along the frontier, and killed a great number of 
the white inhabitants, it became matter of common 
knowledge that " the disaffected party had been aware 
beforehand of the intentions of the Indians, and were 
elated by the prospect ;" and Loyalist partisans missed 
no opportunity of instilling an apprehension of British 
vengeance into the minds of timid citizens, or of 
flattering the Royal officials in New York with exag- 
gerated accounts of the poverty and distress that pre- 
vailed in the American army. 

These vexatious, but for the most part not very for- 
midable, manifestations of hostihty at first roused per- 
turbation and alarm in those against whom they were 
directed. The whole country-side was in a panic when 
some Tory guerillas, who infested the New York high- 
lands, intercepted one of Charles Lee's orderlies, and 
destroyed his despatches ; as a consequence of which 
exploit much fine writing, and impudent self-glorifica- 
tion, have been irrecoverably lost to posterity. The 
State Government was besieged with urgent, and emo- 
tionally worded, demands that light horsemen should be 
told off to patrol the roads, and chastise the villains 
who insulted the friends of liberty, and assisted her 
enemies in their rapine. But the Revolutionary au- 
thorities soon recovered their self-possession ; and, when 
it was necessary to punish, they acted without precipi- 
tation, and in reasonable obedience to the dictates of 

^ Complaint of Zachariah Sickles to the New York Committee. 


humanity.^ Armed insurrection was suppressed with 
rigour; (for Governor Clinton was no sentimentalist;) 
but little encouragement was shown in high quarters 
to querulous and gossiping accusations against quiet 
people who did not wish well to the Republic. Trivial 
instances of the sort of conduct which, in the days 
of the great French Revolution, was known as ** inciv- 
ism," were left to the extemporised jurisdiction of angry 
neighbours; and their methods of proceeding, though 
sometimes inexcusably harsh and rough, were not un- 
frequently tempered by fellow-feeling, or by a dash of 
intentional or unconscious humour.^ In more serious 
cases the offender was held to bail ; and he would often 
be confined on parole within the precincts of a county- 
town. The inconveniences and privations incidental to 
this modified form of incarceration were greatly miti- 
gated for certain prominent Loyalists who had kept 
open house before the Revolution, and whose former 
hospitality was remembered and repaid, when their day 
of trouble came, by influential members of the opposite 
party. The comforts enjoyed by this class of prisoners 
might well have aroused the envy of many among their 
captors. A letter is extant in which Washington re- 
quested the Board of War that the Loyalists, who were 
detained on parole, might not be quartered within any 
district which was occupied by his army ; as he did not 
wish them to see with their own eyes the wretched 
condition of the Continental soldiers. 

The most notable of these prisoners was the natural 
son of Benjamin Franklin, who often had occasion to 

1 When heads of families were committed to prison, orders were issued 
" to pay particular attention to their wives and children, and to see that 
they did not want the common necessaries of life." 

'"^ A youth in a New York township, who had broken into the magazine, 
and stolen some of the public ammunition, was sentenced by the local 
committee to be confined to his father's farm for the space of one year. 
He was allowed to be present at " public worship on Sabbath days, and 
to attend funerals upon extraordinary occasions." An unlucky politician, 
who drank to the King's success, was taken to the guard-house, where 
the soldiers knocked the end out of a hogshead, and forced him to " dance 
Yankee Doodle in it until the next day." 


repeat to himself the passage from '* King Lear " about 
the justice of the gods in relation to men's pleasant 
vices ; for the graceless Edmund in the tragedy was not 
the object of higher hopes, or the source of keener 
disappointment, to the sire who begot him, than was 
WilUam Franklin, the royal Governor of New Jersey. 
**Will," (so his father wrote in the year 1749,) "is 
a tall proper youth, and much of a beau. He acquired 
a habit of idleness on the Expedition, but begins of late 
to apply himself to business, and I hope will become 
an industrious man." ^ The youth travelled rapidly 
towards success along paths which were made smooth 
and short by his father's well-established influence, 
and consummate knowledge of the world. He became 
Postmaster at Philadelphia, and Clerk of the House of 
Assembly of Pennsylvania; and in 1757 he accom- 
panied Benjamin Franklin on a visit to England, where 
he passed for " one of the prettiest young gentlemen " 
that ever came over from America.^ By this time 
WilHam Franklin had learned to play his own hand 
of cards, for a stake which suited his own fancy. He 
contrived to make the acquaintance, and to win the 
favour, of no less a patron than Lord Bute ; and in the 
year 1763 he was made Governor of New Jersey at 
the early age of thirty-two. The colony did not take his 
appointment as a compHmcnt to itself ; for the Whigs 
regarded him as a time-server and a courtier, and the 
Tories would not allow that he was a gentleman.^ 
None the less he remained a sincere and vehement 

^ The " Expedition " was a military operation undertaken against 
the French in Canada, where the lad served with credit as a Captain of 

2 Letter from William Strahan to Mrs. Franklin ; London, 13 Decem- 
ber 1757. 

^ John Penn, who was in England when Franklin obtained his Governor- 
ship, wrote out that the business had been managed so privately as to allow 
*' no opportunity of doing one single thing that might put a stop to this 
shameful affair. . . . What a dishonour and a disgrace it must be to a 
country to have such a man at the head of it, and to sit down contented ! 
If any gentleman had been appointed, it would have been a different 


Tory ; and all through the earlier stages of the 
American Revolution he was in hot quarrel with his 
Provincial Assembly. 

After the Declaration of Independence New Jersey 
adopted a political constitution framed on popular 
lines. General Livingston was chosen Governor ; and 
William Franklin was put under arrest, pronounced 
a virulent enemy to the country, and ordered to be 
confined where, and how, the Continental Congress 
might direct. He was, however, permitted to choose 
his own place of sojourn ; and he fixed upon a town in 
Connecticut, where he led a free and jovial existence, 
giving tea-parties to ladies of the neighbourhood, and 
treating his male fellow-captives to more potent, and 
much more treacherous, beverages. Towards the end 
of November, 1776, the constables deposed that in the 
night season, between Saturday and Sunday, there 
was hallooing and shouting at Governor Franklin's 
lodging, the company roaring out a catch about 
"King George's health, and it shall go round," and 
a song with a chorus to the effect that Howe was 
a brave commander. The noise, "which might be 
heard forty rods off," brought in the watch ; and there 
ensued the sort of conversation which, at that hour of 
the night, and under those circumstances, passes for 
a political argument. Franklin and his friends called 
the American soldiers cowards ; cursed the colony, and 
those who governed it ; prayed that the Hessians might 
soon be there to cut all their throats ; " and uttered 
the most terrible oaths ever heard, introduced into 
almost every sentence. Mr. Burlington, when remon- 
strated with, said it was no sin to take God's name in 
vain, and told John Hall that he could not get to 
Heaven," inasmuch as he had nothing but Continental 
paper money with which to pay the expenses of the 
journey. Blows followed words ; and in the end the 
whole party were marched off to the guard-room. 
Those were not New England manners ; and, of all New 
Englanders, they were least to the taste of Jonathan 

VOL. IV. fi 


Trumbull. A memorial has been preserved, — addressed 
to the Governor of Connecticut, and signed, (among 
other names,) by Samuel Burlington, — a portion of 
which reads as follows : ** We beg to acquaint your 
Honour that we do not pretend to justify our conduct; 
but your Honour may rest assured that whatever im- 
proprieties happened on that night were occasioned by 
our being in Hquor, and not with any design of offending 
your Honour, or any of the gentlemen in authority." ^ 

These numerous, but desultory and objectless, ebul- 
litions of Loyalist sentiment had inspired Sir William 
Howe with expectations which never were fulfilled. He 
was encompassed in New York by a social atmosphere 
most unfavourable to the formation of a correct judg- 
ment. The city was thronged by Royal officials ex- 
pelled from their seats of administration; by New Eng- 
land merchants and country gentlemen who had been 
despoiled of their property, and who dared not revisit 
their homes ; by Tory clergymen who had been rabbled 
by their congregations, and Tory authors whose circle 
of readers cared for nothing except highly spiced satires 
upon the iniquities and vulgarities of Congress. These 
men contemplated the situation through the distorting 
medium of intense, and in many cases justifiable, re- 
sentment; and they all of them cherished those fond 
hallucinations which cheer and misguide the political 
exile ; — for exiles they already were, even though the 
sea did not flow between themselves and their birthplace. 
They were the informants and advisers of the British 
Commander-in-Chief, and too often his flatterers and 
boon-companions ; for his course of life was such as 
the most estimable of the Loyalists watched with regret 
and disapproval. Sir William Howe had been brought 
to believe that a spirit of impatience with the Revolution 
prevailed far and wide throughout the Confederacy; 
and the Ministers in London expressed their pleasure 

^ Sabine's American Loyalists. The Works of Benjamin Franklin^ 
edited by Jared Sparks. American Archives for June, November, and 
December, 1776. 


at hearing from him " that the rage of rebellion of late 
had considerably abated," and that the affection of 
the people was visibly reverting towards the King's 

In an armed contest, when force rules the hour, 
political inclinations are of small account unless they 
lead to martial action ; and Royalism to the North of 
the Potomac River, for any practical military purpose, 
was a barren and unfruitful creed. Further to the 
Southward the case was very different indeed ; as time 
was soon to show. The local Tories of Georgia and 
the Carolinas, — numerous, hardy, habituated to arms, 
devoted to their cause, and implacable against its 
adversaries, — during several fiercely disputed cam- 
paigns made the war their own; but Loyalists in the 
Northern and Central States were for the most part 
content with leaving the King's troops to fight the 
King's battles. Oliver de Lancey of New York possessed 
an extensive influence, and a well deserved popularity, 
throughout his native province. During the late F'rench 
war he had stated, and almost unquestionably with truth, 
that, if he were placed in command of the New York 
contingent, he would undertake to enlist in ten days the 
whole quota of the troops allotted to that colony. In 
the autumn of 1776 de Lancey was appointed a Bri- 
gadier General in the Royal service. He promised that, 
in the following Spring, he would bring into the field 
fifteen hundred Loyalists ; but not six hundred of them 
were forthcoming when the army marched.^ The force 
which Howe took with him on his expedition against 
Philadelphia, (an enterprise which demanded every 
trained soldier that he could muster,) comprised only 
three minute detachments of native American infantry. 

That meagre outcome of Royalist effort and enthu- 
siasm was in sorry contrast to the sixteen thousand 

^ Letter in reply to Sir William Howe from John Robinson, Secre- 
tary of the Treasury ; March 5,1777. Report of American Manuscripts 
in the Royal Institution of Great Britain\ Vol. I. 

^ Sabine's American Loyalists^ Vol. I., page 364. 



New Englanders who in April 1775, within forty-eight 
hours after the first shot' had been fired, stood in array- 
outside the fortifications of Boston ; or to the host of 
armed farmers who, of their own accord and at their 
own charges, trooped in from far and near to oppose 
Burgoyne at Saratoga. Lexington, and Bennington, — 
and other spirited encounters which are forgotten by 
Europe, but are still well remembered in America, — 
were fought, on the side of the Revolution, by a force 
which may not unfairly be described as the posse comi- 
tatus of the neighbouring districts : whereas the only 
success of any importance which stands to the credit of 
the Northern Loyalists, as apart from the British regu- 
lars, was the battle of Oriskany in the Mohawk valley ; 
and more than half the Loyalists there present, and 
those by no means the least forward in the melee, were 
painted Indians. The trumpery character of the Tory 
demonstrations against the Revolutionary authorities in 
rebellious States, and the ease with which those demon- 
strations were suppressed, profoundly disappointed the 
hopes of the British Cabinet ; and British veterans 
sorrowfully counted the handful of Americans who 
were attracted by the secure pay, and the smart uni- 
form, of the Royal service, as compared with the tens 
of thousands of recruits who did not shrink from the 
starvation, and the threadbare misery, which awaited 
them in the Continental army. Military men look to 
military results ; and the best English officers, naturally 
and pardonably, declined to believe in the single-mind- 
edness of partisans who would not strike a blow for 
their convictions. That opinion found expression in the 
words of a distinguished soldier who already had 
acquired the esteem, and was destined ere long to enjoy 
the personal regard and friendship, of his Sovereign. 
" I shall now," Colonel Harcourt wrote, " conclude with 
a few remarks, which I think the very little experience 
I have already had in this war sufficiently authorises 
me to make. The first is that, however Government 
may have been flattered by the representations of a few 


interested individuals, you may depend upon it, as a 
fact, that we have not met with ten, I believe I might 
say two, disinterested friends to the supremacy of Great 

Washington's prolonged stay at Morristown was some- 
thing of an oasis in the desert of his severe existence. 
Two years of perpetual labour, the last six months of 
which were passed amidst frightful hardships, and anxi- 
ety very near akin to despair, had not been endured 
with impunity. Before the close of winter he was in 
low health, and those most immediately about him 
feared lest he might not have the strength to rally. It 
was then that he took the Com.munion with the Presby- 
terians.^ **The service," (so the homely record runs,) 
**was held in the rear of the parsonage on Morris 
Street. The congregation, wrapped in th^ir heaviest 
clothing, with no roof above them but the winter sky, 
gathered about their pastor, having cheerfully relin- 
quished their church to the suffering soldiers." Wash- 
ington had forbidden his wife to join him in camp, as 
the movements of his army were uncertain, and his 
lodgings rough and crowded ; but, when Mrs. Washing- 
ton learned that her husband was ill, she resolved 
within herself that the question was one for her, and not 
for him, to settle.^ On the fifteenth of March she arrived 
at Morristown, and the newspapers were soon able to 
report that his Excellency was now perfectly recovered, 
and had in addition the satisfaction of his amiable lady's 
company. The weather improved ; that northern cor- 
ner of New Jersey was a land of plenty ; and Morris- 

^ Letter from Colonel the Honourable William Harcourt to his father. 
Earl Harcourt : New Brunswick, March 17th, 1777. 

2 The story is related in an earlier volume of this history. 

^ Mrs. Washington had foreseen that the risk of small-pox in a military 
camp might be employed as a reason for keeping her from the General's 
side when her presence was most needed. She accordingly got herself 
inoculated soon after the war began, and went through the illness with no 
injurious effect on her strength or beauty. 


town stood high, safe, and pleasant, on a table-land, with 
steep slopes, which commanded a wide prospect over a 
beautiful rolling country.^ During those years of 
trouble many important Whig families from the Central 
States had sought sanctuary among the hills, where 
they formed a large and friendly circle, with money and 
leisure to spare, and of one mind in poUtics. Lady 
Washington, (as the others, when speaking among 
themselves, respectfully called her,) at once set the tone, 
and gave an example of the personal habits which were 
thenceforward to prevail in good American society until 
the war was over, and the country had emerged from 
peril. The ladies who first paid her a visit of ceremony, 
in their " best bibs and bands, and most elegant silks 
and ruffles," found her in a plain brown dress, and a 
check apron. " She received us," said one of the party, 
" very graciously and easily ; but, after the compliments 
were over, she resumed her knitting. There we were 
without a stitch of work, and sitting in state ; but General 
Washington's lady was knitting stockings for herself 
and husband." 2 From that day onward no hands were 
idle ; fine clothes disappeared from use ; sewing and 
knitting clubs were organised for the benefit of the 
army ; and in some kitchens, well known to the younger 
soldiers, the meal-bags were always open, and the soup 
simmering on the fire. 

The way of life in Washington's household was 
simple in the extreme, but not austere, and the very 
reverse of silent ; for he loved to surround himself with 
young people who talked their own talk, and amused 
themselves in their own fashion. The three beautiful 

^ A Virginian lady, who spent that winter at Morristown, speaks of it 
as " a clever little village whose three spires would make it seem preten- 
tious." The churches were hospitals ; the larger buildings had been 
converted into magazines ; and the troops lived in log huts. Washing- 
ton's own domicile was a house of public entertainment, which fronted 
the village-green, and, (like a typical American tavern,) was kept by a 

2 Life of Martha Washington, by Anne HoUingsworth Wharton ; 
Chapter VII. 


daughters of Governor Livingston resided with their 
aunt Lady Stirling, and their cousin Lady Kitty Duer, 
in a fine old Manor-house not far from Morristown ; 
and there was no dearth of wit and gallantry among 
the young fellows who, with Alexander Hamilton as 
their leading spirit, were members of what, in the mili- 
tary parlance of the day, was known as the General's 
family.^ The troop of girls, with a due proportion of 
aides-de-camp, attended the Washingtons " on their horse- 
back parties," during which the General kept his eyes 
open ; for, like Wellington in Spain, he always studied 
his theatre of operations from the saddle. A spacious 
room in the Commissariat store-house was reserved for 
dancing, and for the meetings of a Masonic Lodge, at 
which the Commander-in-Chief was often present, and 
where he conferred the degrees of the Order upon his 
companions in arms. These pastimes and festivities, 
though heartily enjoyed, were of Sparta rather than of 
Capua. The entire cost, during four and a half months, 
of maintaining the Headquarters Staff, and of exercising 
the hospitalities obligatory upon the general of a very 
hungry army, amounted to less than five hundred 
pounds ; and even this modest outlay, in the view of 
Washington, required a special note stating, in his own 
hand-writing, that all the separate items were recorded 
for the examination of Congress. 

Small-pox was then the scourge of camp-life, and 
not unfrequently obtruded itself, at an awkward 
moment, as a most disturbing factor in the calculations 
of a strategist. In June 1776, when the British armada 
was expected in New York Bay, and not a man could 
be spared from duty, Washington had combated and 
controlled the malady by systematic and rigorous isola- 

^ Captain Graydon, of Philadelphia, visited Morristown, and was 
invited by Washington to dinner, where he met the Miss Livingstons. 
Colonel Hamilton presided at the General's table, and kept the company 
alive; and in the evening the young people assembled again at a tea- 
party. Now that all question of a Royal custom-duty was past and 
gone, tea was again beginning to be served in Whig houses. 


tion of the small-pox patients.^ The conditions of time 
and place now seemed favourable for the adoption of a 
more thorough and sure remedy, which was, however, 
by no means exempt from risk ; for it seemed quite 
within the chances that Sir WiUiam Howe might 
advance in force during some week when half the 
American rank and file were incapacitated by the results 
of inoculation. But in the estimation of Washington 
the probability, or even the possibility, of seeing his 
army ruined by a horrible disease, at the very turning- 
point of a campaign, Hke the army of poor General 
Thomas in Canada, was more alarming still ; and of the 
two dangers he chose the least. Early in February 
1777 he informed Governor Trumbull that the impracti- 
cability of keeping the small-pox from spreading in the 
natural way had determined him, upon the most mature 
deliberation, to inoculate all the new troops that had 
not had the disorder. 

The measure was popular among soldiers, and in 
the homes whence soldiers came ; ^ and the miUtary 
authorities lost no opportunity of recommending it to 
public confidence. The army was carefully informed 
that, when the process was tried at West Point in the 
New York Highlands, only four cases out of five 
hundred had ended fatally ; and there had been nights 
when the parole, and the countersign, issued to the 
American sentries were the words, " Inoculation " and 
" Health." ^ Washington gave the order ; the surgeons 
at Morristown, as soon as permission was accorded, fell 
to work with a will ; the Presbyterian and Baptist 
churches, which had been made over to them for 
infirmaries, were filled and emptied several times in 

1 American Archives of June 1776. 

2 "The women of all this district, as far as Boston and New York, 
are slender and straight. They have a very white skin, and a healthy 
colour in their faces, without having to paint. Hardly any of those I 
have seen are pitted with small-pox ; but then inoculation has been 
common here for many years." Letter from a German Officer in Bur- 
goyne's army, quoted in Lowell's Hessians. 

^ The Private Soldier under Washiyigton ; Chapter VI. 


succession; and the streets of the village were soon 
thronged by a multitude of cheerful, and very for- 
midable, convalescents. Washington had acted under 
sound advice, and his injunctions were carried into 
effect by enthusiastic and very capable agents ; for 
his army-doctors loved their profession, and already 
gave earnest of the scientific ingenuity, and manual 
skill, for which the physicians and surgeons of their 
nation have long been celebrated. Too few in number ; 
scantily provided with the commonest hospital neces- 
saries ; and sometimes, (in those days of interrupted 
commerce,) absolutely destitute of the drugs which were 
in ordinary use, they fought their uphill battle cleverly, 
and on the whole victoriously.^ Some years after this 
date their merit was discerned by no less a competent 
judge than Baron Larrey, who, as Head Surgeon in 
the Imperial Guard during all Napoleon's wars, most 
assuredly enjoyed unique opportunities for perfecting 
himself in the practice of his art ; and who was in the 
habit of drawing very accurate comparisons between 
the surgical proficiency of his own, and other, countries. 
Toward the commencement of his career he had served 
in America, when the armies of Rochambeau and 
Washington lay in camp together. Larrey then formed, 
and late in life he placed on evidence, a high opinion 
of the American surgeons, who were ** very bold in 
amputations, and who saved many more of their 
wounded than the French, although they had a less 
well-situated Hospital." ^ 

The Americans, much to their advantage, were an 

1 In July 1776 the Medical Department of the American army adver- 
tised for a large quantity of dry herbs for baths and fomentations, par- 
ticularly balm, hyssop, wormwood, and mallows. " Good people at a 
distance" were prayed to collect and cure herbs. It was customary to 
prepare the system for inoculation by doses of calomel ; as a substitute 
for which the doctors at W^est Point were fain to use "an extract of 
butternut, made by boiling down the inner bark of the tree." 

'^ Memoirs of Military Surgery^ by Baron Larrey, First Surgeon of the 
Guard, Knight of the Iron Crown, and Commander of the Legion of 


eminently practical-minded people; but it cannot be 
denied that, in their relation to military life, they 
carried that valuable quality to a perilous excess. 
They turned out to fight, readily enough, when a battle 
was imminent ; but to remain in camp between-whiles 
was in their eyes nothing better than a deplorable 
waste of time which might very easily be put to more 
remunerative uses. That was Washington's standing 
difficulty ; and he seldom experienced it in an acuter 
form than during the Spring of 1777. February, 
March, and April passed away ; but the State govern- 
ments still kept back from the front their newly-raised 
battalions of regular infantry ; and the militia, with 
more excuse, refused to abandon their private avoca- 
tions, and remained tranquilly at home. A Pennsyl- 
vanian officer captured at Fort Washington, and subse- 
quently released on parole, paid a visit to his former 
comrades in their cantonments at Morristown. '* I had 
been extremely anxious," he wrote, "to see our army. 
Here it was ; but I could see nothing that deserved the 
name. I was told, indeed, that it was much weakened 
by detachments ; and I was glad to find that there was 
some cause for the present paucity of soldiers. I could 
not doubt, however, that things were going well. The 
Commander-in-Chief, and all about him, were in excel- 
lent spirits." 

Washington himself might well be hopeful ; for he 
had devised, and carefully matured, a plan of opera- 
tions based upon an intimate acquaintance with the 
idiosyncrasies of his countrymen. Before the end of 
May he sent his wife back to Mount Vernon, made a 
long day's march to the southward, and planted his 
army within a few miles of New Brunswick, the 
westernmost of the British garrisons. He had selected 
a very strong position. A range of heights, steep on 
the side towards his enemy, sloped gently rearwards 
into a well-watered valley where a much larger army 
than his might have encamped under cover from 
cannon-shot, and amidst abundant pasturage for their 


horses. Below the hills stood the village of Middle- 
brook, which was aptly named ; for the Raritan flowed 
deep and swift along its front, and a stream, encased 
in ravines, protected it on either flank. " Our right,' 
so Washington wrote, *'is our most accessible and 
weakest part ; but two or three redoubts will render it 
as secure as could be wished ; " and he wished, (and 
moreover he was fully determined,) that on right, left, 
and centre, his lines should be nothing short of 
impregnable.^ Statesman and soldier that he was, he 
had placed himself in close proximity to the English 
for carefully considered reasons of high policy. He 
purposed, by sounding the alarm of war, to rouse 
his country from its false security ; to quicken the 
remissness of the Provincial governments ; and to 
replenish his army with fresh regiments which, when 
once they were under his hand, he would take very 
good care never to let go until the campaign was 
finally decided. And, again, he was convinced that Sir 
William Howe would not venture to advance against 
Philadelphia through the Jerseys, and across the 
Delaware, leaving behind him a powerful and enter- 
prising adversary planted close up against his line of 
communication with New York city. Washington felt 
assured that, by this manoeuvre, he would impose a 
passive attitude upon his opponents ; and he purposed, 
**in the meantime, by light bodies of militia counte- 
nanced by a few Continental troops, to harass them, 
and weaken their numbers by continual skirmishes." 
So he explained himself to Benedict Arnold, in a letter 
marked by the confidential freedom which one master 
of an art employs when writing to another. That was 
the much lauded Fabian policy, which had not been 
invented by Washington, nor by Fabius either; for 
it is the course pursued, in every age and country, 
by military commanders, of solid judgment and firm 

^ All the places mentioned in this Section may be found in a map at 
the end of this volume, — which, like those preceding it, has been adapted 
from the Atlas to Marshall's Life of IVashingion ; Philadelphia, 1807. 


character, against a foe who for the time being is too 
strong to be successfully grappled with in ranged battle. 
The game had now been opened by Washington ; 
the next move fell to Sir William Howe ; and he took 
it with even more than his wonted dilatoriness. On 
the thirteenth of June he transferred his army to the 
southern bank of the Raritan, by means of pontoons 
which had been sent out from England half a year too 
late ; for, if they had been supplied in time. Lord Corn- 
wallis would without fail have captured Philadelphia 
in the second week of the previous December. The 
British were twice as many as their adversaries ; and 
better troops had seldom filed across a bridge in more 
ardent quest of an enemy. ** The veteran officers," 
(said an American historian,) " alike German and 
English, agreed that they had never seen such a body 
of men. Every soldier was eager for a battle." The 
long line of Royal brigades took up their ground 
between Somerset Court House on the left, and Middle- 
bush on the right. ^ A Major of Engineers, on whose 
opinion Howe implicitly relied, was commissioned to 
reconnoitre the hostile position ; and he reported that 
an attempt to storm it would result in certain disaster to 
the assailants.^ As Washington had already been at 
Middlebrook for more than a fortnight, it is difficult to 
understand why Sir William had not taken measures 
for obtaining this information earlier. If he had been 
as fond of riding as his opponent,^ he would long ere 
this have sallied out from New York attended by a 
troop of Colonel Harcourt's dragoons, and have looked 
into matters through his own telescope ; instead of 
bringing many thousand fine infantry, and a long train 
of guns, as his escort on an expedition which, if the 

^ Bancroft's Revolution : Epoch Fourth, Chapter 20. 

2 Jones's History of New York : Volume I., Chapter 9. 

^ Washington, who wrote only one letter to Congress during the week 
that Howe lay before Middlebrook, explained his silence by assuring the 
President that he had been " almost constantly on horseback." 


right name has to be found for it, most assuredly cannot 
be termed a wise man's errand. 

The British commander henceforward relinquished 
the notion of approaching Philadelphia by land ; if, 
indeed, he had seriously entertained it. Nothing now 
remained for him except to retrace his steps ; but Sir 
William Howe was constitutionally averse to taking a 
resolution, and above all an unpleasant resolution, 
quickly. To the surprise and amusement of the 
American officers who were surveying him from across 
the Raritan, he placidly and deliberately began to 
intrench his camp, as if he had come into their neigh- 
bourhood to spend a quiet summer. He soon, how- 
ever, became conscious that, if an aggressive strategy 
was hazardous, there was danger likewise in delay and 
inaction ; for he had much to lose, and nothing what- 
ever to gain, by lingering in the position where he at 
present lay. He had collected, and led into the field, 
every soldier whom he could venture to withdraw from 
the garrisons of Newport, of Long Island, and of New 
York city ; and there were no reinforcements to follow. 
Washington's power, on the contrary, increased daily, 
and almost hourly. General Putnam despatched from 
Peekskill, in the Northern Highlands, a large force of 
Continental infantry, and pushed them down towards 
Middlebrook in three detachments, with an interval 
of one day's march between each column. Benedict 
Arnold had been summoned from Connecticut to make 
good the crossings of the Delaware River against the 
invader, and to assume the general military charge of 
Pennsylvania. Proud of serving under the orders of so 
redoubtable a fighting man, the State militia turned out 
in great force, expensively equipped, and all the more 
useful as soldiers on account of their recent experience 
of war in the short and sharp winter campaign of 

The ministry in London had convinced themselves 
that the loyalty, or at all events the timidity, of the 
New Jersey people would revive when the Royal troops 


were again quartered in their midst; but the hope 
proved delusive. The Jerseys, in the course of one 
and the same twelvemonth, had been occupied in 
turns by each of the hostile armies ; and they had 
learned to appreciate the difference between Americans 
who were kept within the bounds of duty by General 
Washington, and Germans who were left to their own 
devices by General Howe. Their militia battalions in 
the Revolutionary camp were at once brought up to 
their full strength ; and the bands of armed and 
mounted farmers, — which, ever since the Hessian 
ravages, had been the military speciality of New 
Jersey, — hovered in flank and rear of Howe's army ; 
swooped down upon his convoys ; and terrorised into 
an enforced neutrality that small, and diminishing, 
section of Tories who had not as yet torn up the British 
protection-papers, and taken the oath of allegiance to 
the United States. Washington infused additional 
vitality into the proceedings of the Jerseymen by send- 
ing to their assistance Colonel Daniel Morgan, and his 
Virginian Rangers, who knew the wiles of the forest, 
and could hit a silver dollar, (if such a coin still existed 
within the American camp,) at a measured distance of 
sixty yards. ^ Regulars and militia, riflemen from 
the frontier, and country-folk with their fowling-pieces 
and powder-horns, — they all displayed an alacrity 
which affected Washington with very novel, and most 
comforting, sensations. His letters during the last 
fortnight of that June were closely packed with urgent 
business ; and yet he often found space in his paper for 
a hearty tribute to the patriotism of his countrymen. 
** It is a happy circumstance," (so he wrote to Arnold,) 
" that such an animation prevails among the people. 
It will inspire the people themselves with confidence in 

1 In the Commander-in-Chief's letter of instructions to Morgan there 
occurs a paragraph suggesting that the Colonel should dres? one or two of 
his companies " in the Indian style, and let them make the attack with 
yelling and screaming, as the Indians do." The idea, which was hardly 
worthy of Washington, does not appear to have commended itself to 
Colonel Morgan. 


their own strength, by discovering to every individual 
the zeal and spirit of their neighbours." ^ 

On the nineteenth of June Howe broke up his 
camp, and disappeared from the vicinity of Middle- 
brook. Next day, when the Americans became aware 
that, instead of making a flank-march on Philadelphia, 
he had set his face steadily rearward towards Perth 
Amboy and the sea, they made the country-side 
resound with their cheering, and with salvoes of gun- 
powder which they were no longer afraid of wasting. 
Washington, with some misgivings, descended from his 
stronghold ; but it was neither safe nor easy to molest 
a retreating force of superior strength, which had a 
very short space to traverse before reaching home, and 
which had never been defeated in battle. The British 
soldiers marched along silent, and very gloomy; in 
a temper boding ill to any foe who might be incautious 
enough to meddle with them. At last they had an 
opportunity of turning upon their pursuers. Stirling's 
division had approached them unsupported ; and he 
was vigorously attacked by Cornwallis. Stirling, who 
was still something of a military pedant, neglected 
the rare advantages which the locality presented, and 
drew up his command in parade-ground order ; while 
Cornwallis made no mistakes, and gave full play to the 
indignant valour of his followers. The ardour excited 
by an emulation between the English and German 
troops **was conspicuous and irresistible."^ Their one 
thought was to get at the Americans ; and Stirling's 
regiments, leaving three field-pieces, and many prisoners, 
in the hands of the Hessian grenadiers and the British 
footguards, retired with headlong haste, and most cer- 
tainly not in any one of those tactical formations which 
were dear to the heart of their Divisional General. 
Washington thereupon went back to the hills ; and Howe 

1 Washington to Major General Schuyler, on the sixteenth June ; to 
Major General Arnold, on the seventeenth ; and to the President of 
Congress on the twentieth. 

2 " History of Europe " in the Annual Register for 1777 ; Chapter 7. 


transported his army to Staten Island. He was attended 
across the channel by a troop of broken and ruined 
men ; — those New Jersey Tories whom he had forced 
into a public declaration of Royalist fidelity with no 
reasonable prospect that he would in the end be able 
to protect them from the resentment of their Republican 
fellow-citizens. His latest act before departing in- 
tensified that resentment ; for, as he descended the 
Raritan, he burned down the dwelling-houses, in town 
and country, which had sheltered his own troops during 
that inclement winter. " The evacuation of Jersey at this 
time," (so Washington wrote,) ** seems to be a peculiar 
mark of Providence, as the inhabitants have an oppor- 
tunity of securing their harvests of hay and grain, which 
would in all probability have undergone the same fate 
with many farm-houses, had it been ripe enough to take 
fire. The distress of many of the inhabitants, who were 
plundered not only of their effects, but of their pro- 
vision of every kind, was such, that I sent down several 
loads of meat and flour to supply their present wants." 
Sir William Howe left the Jerseys in a miserable 
plight ; and he never again set his foot upon their soil.^ 
Washington, though he had the very strongest rea- 
sons for getting at the inward meaning of Sir William 
Howe's strategical movements, confessed that he had 
been " much at a loss to account for these strange 
manoeuvres." Howe's own explanation was that he 
marched out to Middlebrook on the chance of tempting 
his adversary to fight a battle ; and he claimed that the 
stratagem had succeeded.^ But any advantage which 

^ Washington to Major General Armstrong, 4th July, 1777 ; to the 
President of Congress, 22nd June ; and to Major General Schuyler, 2nd 
July. In all these letters the burning of houses, and the plunder of those 
which were left standing, is described as enormous in extent, and of set 
and systematic purpose. "The late conduct of the enemy," (so Gov- 
ernor Trumbull was informed by his son, the Commissary-General of the 
American armies,) " has converted all the Tories in this part of the world, 
and left not one remaining." 

- Howe's despatch to Lord George Germaine ; London Gazette of 
August 22, 1777. Howe spoke to the same effect in the House of Com- 
mons on March 29, 1779. 


he had obtained over General Stirling fell greatly short 
of those victorious and decisive results which the King 
of England had been led to anticipate. His Majesty 
had informed Lord North that the campaign, in Sir 
William Howe's opinion, would ** go deep towards end- 
ing this vexatious though necessary business ; " ^ and 
the hope which George the Third ventured to entertain 
was shared by many, and perhaps by most, of his 
subjects. On the fifteenth of June, while Howe was 
encamped before Middlebrook, Doctor Price wrote thus 
from his residence in a southern suburb of London : 
** The general talk here of military men, and of the 
Ministry, is that Philadelphia will be taken, and the 
war with the Americans decided, this summer. Such is 
the confidence with which this is given out that many 
of those who are least disposed to credit such assertions 
are staggered. So certain do the Bishops in particular 
think the speedy conquest of America that they have 
formed a committee for taking into consideration meas- 
ures for settling Bishops in America, agreeably to an in- 
timation at the conclusion of the Archbishop of York's 
sermon in February last to the Society for propagating 
the Gospel." 2 

Surprise and mortification very naturally ensued when 
it became known that the forward movement of the 
British had been abruptly discontinued, and their whole 
army withdrawn to the islands in New York Bay. A 
professional reputation, as considerable as that of Sir 
William Howe, always dies hard ; and his sturdier ad- 
mirers in America did their utmost to defend him. *' We 
do not," (so one of them reported from Nova Scotia,) 
" hear yet of any general action. Our General acts upon 
the solid principles of old Fabius, which worries and dis- 

^ The King's letter was written from Kew on July the eleventh, after 
the retirement from Middlebrook, but long before the story of it arrived 
in England. 

2 Letters to and from Richard Price, D.D., F.R.S. ; 1 767-1 790; Re- 
printed from I'he Proceedings of the Massachtisetts Historical Society ^ 
May, 1903. 



tresses the rebels more than a battle." ^ But a campaign 
in which the part of Fabius was doubled, and that of Han- 
nibal altogether omitted, was an exhilarating performance 
to no one, and least of all to the British tax-payer. The 
announcement that Sir William Howe had penetrated 
into the heart of New Jersey ; had stayed there a week 
without enlisting any active support from a population 
whose attachment to the royal cause had been loudly 
proclaimed, and sincerely credited, in London ; and had 
then left the province in General Washington's undis- 
puted possession ; — afforded matter for serious reflec- 
tion to unprejudiced Englishmen of both political parties. 
They were painfully impressed by the inertness and help- 
lessness of the American loyalists ; and they reflected 
with dismay that a country, which took so very long 
to conquer, would necessarily cost a terrible amount of 
money to retain. A permanent military occupation of 
the thirteen colonies could not fail to involve England 
in a never-ending expenditure which all the treasures 
that had been extracted in times past from Peru, and 
Mexico, would hardly have sufficed to defray. Horace 
Walpole declared that, as far as his own observation 
went, General Howe's retirement from in front of General 
Washington had given rise to a feeling of positive 
despair. "In one thing," he said, "all that come from 
America agree, that an alienation from this country is 
incredible and universal ; so that instead of obtaining 
a revenue thence, which was the pretence of the war, 
the conquest would only entail boundless expense to pre- 
serve it. The New World will at last be revenged on 
the Old." 2 

1 Eleventh Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission\ Appen* 
dix, Part V., page 417, 

2 Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann ; Strawberry Hill, Sept. i, 1777. 


burgoyne's army, burgoyne's proclamation, 
schuyler and gates. ticonderoga 

The exultation in America was in full proportion, 
and something over, to the chagrin and disappointment 
which prevailed in England. But these emotions were 
all of them premature ; for the crisis was still to come ; 
and the combatants had in front of them a whole year 
of fierce and continuous tussle, with frequent and memo- 
rable alternations of triumph and defeat. And yet, dis- 
tant as might be the termination of that prolonged and 
well-contested campaign, the inevitable issue had al- 
ready been decided in Downing Street before ever the 
fighting began. The British plan of operations had been 
maturely and copiously discussed by the British Cabinet, 
and had been hopelessly and grievously bungled. All 
through the winter and spring Sir William Howe, and 
the Ministry in London, were in active communication ; 
if indeed that expression can be applied to a corre- 
spondence which had so far to travel, and travelled so 
slowly, that an answer seldom came to hand within four- 
teen weeks after a letter had been written.^ 

Those were circumstances in which the government 
at home had no rational course open before it except 
to adopt the advice, and strengthen the hands, of the 
general in the field. Sir William Howe had been care- 
ful and specific in his proposals, guarded in his prom- 
ises, and very far from immoderate in his demands. He 
was enough of a politician to know something, though 
not everything, about the ways of the British War 
Office ; and, (while he placed on record his conviction 
that a very large number of additional troops was re- 

1 The reply to Sir William Howe's despatch of the 30th November. 
1776, reached him on the 9th March, 1777. He wrote another most impor- 
tant letter on the 2nd April, and received the answer on the i6th August. 

67 F 2 


quired in America,) he confined himself to asking for a 
reinforcement of fifteen thousand rank and file, which 
would raise his army to the indispensable minimum of 
five-and-thirty thousand effective men. He represented 
that, even with this force in hand, it was useless to 
begin by an attempt on New England, where the popu- 
lation was very large, and of warlike temper ; and where 
Washington, who was sure to follow the British every- 
where, and never to fight them except at his own time, 
and on ground of his own choosing, would have them 
at a considerable disadvantage. In Pennsylvania, how- 
ever, the prospect was very different. The local militia 
of that State was of comparatively small weight in the 
scale of war ; it would be incumbent upon the American 
commander to risk a battle in order to protect the Capi- 
tal of the Confederacy ; *' and my opinion," (said Howe,) 
" has always been that the defeat of the rebel regular 
army was the surest road to peace." When that army 
had been crushed, it was not one province, but three, 
which would constitute the certain and immediate prize 
of victory ; for the destinies of New York and New 
Jersey were bound up in the fate of Pennsylvania. The 
royal authority would be firmly re-established in a vast, 
compact, and central region, where political incUnations 
were nearly balanced ; and where love of ease, and the 
craving for peace, must always induce a majority of the 
people to accept, and even to welcome, the dominion 
of the strongest. From that secure, and conveniently 
situated, base of operations the British army would 
thereafter proceed to attack, and subjugate, first Vir- 
ginia and the Carolinas, and eventually Connecticut and 
Massachusetts. It was a policy, (so Sir William Howe 
declared,) which he was confident would lead to a pros- 
perous conclusion of the war. 

That was a reasonable and practicable scheme, 
thought out by a man who had learned the geography 
of America from recent, and most instructive, experi- 
ence ; and who was familiar with her roads, her water- 
ways, her forests, and (above all) with the quality of her 


people. It was an occasion when everything should 
have been left to the undivided responsibility of the 
officer in command on the spot. Napoleon has said 
that one bad general is better than two good ones ; ^ 
and Sir William Howe's projected campaign was now 
spoiled by the interference of a man whom it would be 
satire to call a good general, and whose orders were 
issued, not from the tent or the saddle, but from a desk 
in a public office three thousand miles away. Lord 
George Germaine had been made Secretary for the 
Colonies because he could debate, and for no other 
reason in the world ; but he esteemed himself highly 
as a military authority, although he had long ago been 
dismissed with ignominy from military employment. 
He had never served outside Europe ; he underrated 
the resources of the Americans ; he entirely miscon- 
ceived their national character ; and he hated the very 
name of Bostonian. The most successful performance 
of his whole life had been that artful and powerful 
diatribe against the pretentious shopkeepers, and the 
" riotous rabble," of Boston which carried triumphantly 
through Parliament the Bill for putting an end to repre- 
sentative government in Massachusetts ; and his private 
letters prove that the eloquence of his vituperation was 
inspired by sincere dislike and contempt for the popu- 
lation which he was denouncing. His judgment on 
military questions, bad at the best, was distorted by 
his political prejudices. Germaine deliberately esti- 
mated the doubtful and dearly purchased British suc- 
cess at Bunker's Hill as a mortal blow to the New 
Englanders, whose troops, in his view, were too undis- 
ciplined to "act well upon the defensive." In point of 
fact, for the size of the forces engaged, Bunker's Hill 
was the most murderous of all defensive battles which 
had been fought since the invention of gunpowder.^ 

1 General Bonaparte to Carnot ; Lodi, May 14, 1796. 

2 Manuscripts of Mrs. Stopfer d Sackville of Drayton House ^ North- 
amptonshire, The first volume includes letters from Germaine of July 2% 
1774; and of May 30, June 13, and July 26, 1775. 


Such were the quaHfications and antecedents of the 
minister to whom had been committed the charge of 
recovering America for the Crown. Germaine exer- 
cised Lord Chatham's functions ; but he had not mas- 
tered Lord Chatham's methods. If he mistrusted a 
general on active service, he ought to have recalled 
him, as he himself had been recalled after Minden and 
replaced by Granby. But, as long as Howe was re- 
tained in command, Germaine should have provided 
him with the means of victory as loyally as Chatham 
had supplied them to Wolfe and Amherst, Hawke, Bos- 
cawen, Clive, and the Keppels. He should have left 
Quebec and Montreal in the secure custody of Sir Guy 
Carleton, whose masculine statesmanship, and martial 
energy, had brought the northern colony safe through 
much graver perils than any by which it now was 
threatened ; and most of the royal troops in Canada 
might then have been transferred by sea to New York 
Bay, as a valuable addition to the strength of the main 
British army.^ Every soldier, meanwhile, who could be 
spared from any barrack in the three kingdoms, should 
have been shipped across the ocean to make up the tale 
of those reinforcements for which Sir William Howe 
quietly and respectfully, but most insistently, petitioned. 
He had represented himself as having use for at least 
twenty thousand more men ; but he consented to make 
fifteen thousand serve. The Home Government re- 
sponded by promising him eight thousand, and sent 
him exactly twenty-nine hundred, but never a bayonet 
or a sabre more.^ 

Germaine had conceived the ambitious hope of com- 

^ This course was so obvious that a report of its having been carried 
into execution made its way into well-informed newspapers. " It is said," 
(so one journal reported,) " that General I^urgoyne has got orders to leave 
a garrison at Quebec, embark the troops, and bring them round by sea to 
Nev*' York, as it will take too much time to cross t!)e Lakes." 

2 These undisputed facts are minutely detailed by Sir William Howe 
in his speech to the House of Commons of March, 1779. "The army," he 
said, "fit for actual duty, exclusive of about two thousand provincials, was 
fourteen thousand short of the number I had expected." 


pensating for deficiency of numbers by brilliant and 
novel strategy. That resource has frequently been em- 
ployed with success in wars between regular armies, and 
in highly civilised regions ; although perhaps not quite 
so frequently as historians have induced their readers 
to believe. But in order to beat down the resistance, 
and enforce the obedience, of an armed and resolute 
population dispersed over an enormous extent of coun- 
try of which many districts are only partially settled, or 
altogether unreclaimed from the desert, an overwhelm- 
ing superiority of strength on the side of the invader 
is an indispensable requisite. To that truth, however, 
Lord George Germaine was blind ; and he made prepara- 
tions for entangling the enemy in a network of compli- 
cated and delicate manoeuvres. A mixed force of Tories 
and Indians, under the command of Colonel St. Leger, 
was to march down the Mohawk valley from the west ; 
while the Canadian army was to traverse the Lakes, and 
join hands with Sir William Howe, as he advanced 
northwards towards Albany. At that point all the three 
columns would converge upon the Americans, in front, 
flank, and rear ; and would master and occupy the whole 
course of the Hudson river, so as to dissever the New 
England States from the rest of the insurgent colonies.^ 
Such a design looked well on paper, and was cleverly 
contrived for use on one of those bewildering occasions 
when a Cabinet of civilian politicians is under the neces- 
sity of resolving itself into a Council of War. The 
secret leaked out, and was hailed in fashionable circles 
with a feeling of satisfaction, which rose to veritable en- 
thusiasm when an ardent and voluble exponent of 
Germaine's proposals appeared upon the scene in the 
person of General Burgoyne. That officer had hurried 
home, as usual, to look after his professional interests ; 
and all through that winter season he was whispering 
with Ministers, begging for a private interview with 
his rather reluctant Sovereign, haranguing the citizens 

^ A map of the district between Quebec and Albany may be found at 
the end of the Fourth Chapter of this volume. 


of Westminster, and giving lectures on military science 
in clubs and drawing-rooms. At a Cabinet Council, 
held in March 1777, Burgoyne was selected to com- 
mand the northern army ; and amateur strategists ii? 
London society, of both sexes, spoke airily and approv- 
ingly of his plan for cutting the rebellion in two by 
a chain of military posts which was to extend, without a 
break, from the River St. Lawrence to Manhattan Island. 
The principles of strategy, however, are anything 
but nonsense, although nonsense may be talked about 
them ; and the most essential of those principles was 
recklessly violated by Germaine, when he made over to 
the Americans the immense advantage of operating on 
an interior line of country. Montreal and New York, 
the points of departure for the two principal British 
armies, were separated from each other by three hun- 
dred miles of hostile territory. Every request for 
mutual support, and every suggestion for a modification 
in the original plan of campaign, had to be sent round 
over fifteen hundred miles of river and ocean. The 
despatches exchanged between Howe and l^urgoyne, 
when they were not intercepted by the enemy, took 
little less than three months to go and come; while 
the Commander-in-Chief at New York was unable to 
maintain any communication whatever with Colonel St. 
Leger ; for the head of the Mohawk Valley lay in the 
depths of the wilderness, more than fifty leagues to the 
southwest of Montreal. On the other hand the several 
divisions of the American army were quartered at a 
reasonable distance from each other, in fertile and open 
districts traversed by highways which, whether good or 
bad, were among the best roads on that Continent. 
Washington might learn what was passing on the 
Northern Lakes within fifty hours after it was known 
at Albany. He had stationed a powerful reserve, — 
equipped for a start on short and sudden notice, and 
under the alert supervision of Israel Putnam, — at a 
central point from which reinforcements could reach 
his own camp at Morristown in four easy marches, and 


could cover the journey to Ticonderoga well inside the 
fortnight. Each of the three isolated British columns, 
from first to last, depended exclusively on its own 
strength, and had no alternative except to retreat, or 
succumb, when that strength became exhausted ; but 
the Republican generals were in a position to assist 
each other in turn wherever, and whenever, the danger 
threatened. Some of the Continental regiments, after 
fighting to the finish at Saratoga, rejoined Washington 
in ample time to take part in that forward movement by 
which the campaign in the Central provinces was event- 
ually decided. Nor was that all ; for America had been 
placed by the folly of her adversary in a situation which 
enabled her to get double service from her best military 
leaders, as well as from her best battaHons. The prepos- 
terous character of Germaine's grand strategical combina- 
tion is curiously illustrated by the opportunities for 
distinction which it successively afforded to one and 
the same American officer. Benedict Arnold first put 
Colonel St. Leger to the rout ; he next helped to defeat 
General Burgoyne ; and he ended by being appointed to 
command in Philadelphia when the British army was at 
length obhged to evacuate that city. 

Germaine's plan had a special attraction for its author 
because it inflicted a public slight upon one whom he 
regarded as a personal opponent. He detested Sir 
Guy Carleton as a wise and sympathetic ruler, whose 
policy was in sharp contrast to his own ; as a distin- 
guished ornament of the profession to which he himself 
had ceased to belong ; and as a subordinate who was at 
no pains to simulate respect or admiration for his official 
superior. The Secretary of State would long ago have 
done the Colonial Governor a very ill turn, if their 
common master had not interfered to protect the 
worthier of his two servants.^ George the Third was 
resolved that the man who had saved Canada should 
never be subjected to wanton insult, nor visited by a 

1 George the Third to Lord North ; Queen's House, December 13th, 
1776. 10 minutes past 9 A.M. 


direct penalty ; but he did not now feel justified in over- 
riding his Ministers when they urged him to appoint 
Burgoyne to the command of the northern army. That 
appointment was a cruel blow to the Governor of Canada. 
As soon as Burgoyne crossed the British frontier he 
would be, to all intents and purposes, an independent 
general ; making requisitions which would have to be 
supplied, promptly and obediently, from the material 
resources of Carleton's province ; and corresponding 
directly, over the Governor's head, with that Secretary 
of State in London who was the Governor's notorious 
enemy. The situation was intolerable. Sir Guy Carleton 
sent in his resignation ; but Lord North refused to accept 
it on the ground that his abandonment of such a post, at 
so critical a moment, would be disadvantageous to the 
interests of the State. George the Third expressed his 
concurrence with the action of the Prime Minister in 
a letter marked by the honourable feeling, the sound 
common-sense, the plain language, and the exemplary 
brevity, with which a King ought to write. " Anyone," 
he said, " that will for an instant suppose himself in the 
situation of Sir Guy Carleton, must feel that the resign- 
ing the government of Quebec is the only dignified 
part. Though I think, as things were situated, the 
ordering him to remain in the province was a necessary 
measure, yet it must be owned to be mortifying to a 
soldier. The General seems at the same time to have 
facilitated as much as possible the steps necessary for 
enabling Burgoyne to cross the Lakes." ^ 

That praise had been fairly earned ; for Carleton, 
in his dealings with Burgoyne, displayed rare public 
spirit, and a still rarer generosity towards the man who 
was virtually, although not nominally, his successor in 
office. Nothing which could contribute to securing a 
victory for the British arms was neglected by the 
Governor of Canada. He maintained in complete repair 
the Royal squadron which dominated the Lakes, and 

1 George the Third to Lord North; Kew, July 2nd, 1777. 56 min. 
past 5 P.M. 


the flotilla of barges which was to carry Burgoyne 
and his troops two thirds of their way by water. He 
strained his influence, and hazarded his popularity, by 
urging the French settlers, during the season when the 
crops should be sown, to hand over their teams for the 
purposes of military transport, and to engage themselves 
as pioneers and boatmen in the service of the expedition. 
He sedulously practised the royal infantry in manoeuvres 
specially adapted for the requirements of forest warfare ; 
and, reserving the very smallest garrison which the in- 
ternal security of his province demanded, he handed over 
to Burgoyne the rest of the Canadian army in high con- 
dition, and in a state of perfect discipline.^ 

A fine little army it was; and in some important 
respects John Burgoyne was not unworthy to command 
it. He knew how to keep troops in better order, — 
with less of the court-martial, and very much less of the 
lash, — than any general of his time ; for he treated his 
officers as friends, and the private soldiers, (to employ 
his own words,) " as thinking beings." ^ He was eagerly 
welcomed by his new command. One of his subalterns 
confidently assured a friend in England that there was 
no doubt of the result of the campaign " if good dis- 
cipline, joined to health and great spirit amongst the 
men, with their being led on by General Burgoyne, who 
was universally esteemed and respected, could ensure 
success."^ It was a case of love at first sight between 

1 " In this trying and difficult situation the Governor endeavoured to 
show that resentment could not warp him from his duty ; and he applied 
himself with the same diligence and energy to forward by every possible 
means, and to support in all its parts, the expedition, as if the arrange- 
ments were entirely his own." " History of Europe " ; Annual Register 
for 1777 ; chapter 8. 

2 Mr. Edward Barrington de Fonblanque's Biography of the Right 
Hon. General John Burgoyne', pages 15 to 22. The whole passage 
should be studied. It is full of interest and instruction. 

^ Travels through the Interior Parts of America ; in a Series of 
Letters by an Officer. London, MDCCXCI. The dedication, addressed 
to the Earl of Harrington, is signed by Lieutenant Thomas Anburey. To 
judge from internal evidence, it is probable that those letters which are 
dated during the advance on Saratoga were written at a subsequent 
period. But the narrative is in a high degree authentic. 


Burgoyne and his army ; and the pride and devotion 
with which his followers regarded him increased with 
closer knowledge, stood proof under the test of danger 
and toil, and survived even after they had all been 
subjected together to the last extremity of mahgnant 

Burgoyne's troops had the sterling qualities of our 
national infantry, and, in an aggravated form, what was 
then the most serious of its defects ; for there was not 
nearly enough of them. The British numbered a little 
more than four thousand rank and file. At that 
epoch the soldiers in any group of regiments, taken at 
random from the English army-list, were sure to be 
courageous and hardy as the sea is salt ; and Burgoyne's 
troops were no chance medley of hastily collected 
battalions. The task which they had now to perform 
had been half done the year before, and had been left 
incomplete under circumstances which piqued, but in 
no sense cooled or diminished, their ardour and self- 
confidence. They had worked in concert; and they all 
knew their parts like a troop of actors in a piece which 
has been rehearsed. They were led by men who had 
been selected on the ground of tried and acknowledged 
professional merit. One of Burgoyne's three brigades 
was commanded by Colonel Simon Fraser, who had 
been wounded in battle long before he came of age, 
and had served with Wolfe at Louisburg and at Quebec. 
Another brigade of infantry was very judiciously en- 
trusted to General Phillips, — than whom it may well be 
doubted whether a better artillery officer, in quarters or 
in the field, ever held a commission ; and Phillips was 
likewise in charge of a train of ordnance comprising 
thirty-eight field-pieces and sixteen heavy guns.^ 

The battalions of Light Infantry and Grenadiers 

^ The employment of artillery officers in the command of infantry 
brigades was at that time contrary to regulation. Burgoyne defended 
himself for having gone outside the rule by a statement that the service 
would be injured ** to the most material degree if the talents of General 
PhiUips were not suffered to extend beyond the artillery." De Fon- 
blanque's Life of Burgoyne ; Appendix D, page 189. 



were pronounced by an eye witness to be such a body 
of men as " could not be raised in a twelvemonth, 
search England through." Lord Balcarres, who united 
long military experience to full physical vigour, — for 
he had spent in the army twenty of the iive-and-thirty 
years which he had lived in the world, — was Colonel of 
the Light Infantry ; and the Grenadiers were placed 
under the command of John Dyke Acland, the kind of 
leader whom our soldiers have always been very willing 
to follow. He was the heir apparent of the greatest 
family of English land-owners who have consented to 
remain Commoners. Belonging to a class which then 
monopolised all the chances, he entered the service as 
Ensign in the spring of 1774, and he became Major in 
the early winter of 1775. He was in Parliament as 
a matter of course ; but all the county-seats in the dis- 
tricts with which his father was connected were already 
occupied by his elders, and he sate for a Cornish 
borough. His wife was a daughter of the first Lord 
Ilchester ; and he thus became cousin by marriage to 
Charles Fox. The two young fellows were political 
antagonists, and something of rivals; and they knew so 
very much about each other's frailties and shortcomings 
that their frequent exchanges of eloquent discourtesies 
were never deficient in point, and were keenly relished 
by the House of Commons. Acland, (as had once 
been the case with Fox,) was a Ministerialist with 
whose presence and patronage Ministers would very 
gladly have dispensed ; and he was viewed with mingled 
feelings by his Sovereign. George the Third, while 
applauding his zeal for the Prerogative, instinctively 
recognised in him the sort of Tory who would almost 
infallibly turn into a Whig at the age when his support 
began to be really worth having. Whenever Lord 
North displayed any symptoms of a friendlier spirit 
towards the rebellious colonists, Acland was always at 
hand to lead a mutiny ; and in his speeches he habitually 
assailed the Americans with every accusation under the 
sun except the charge of cowardice. That taunt he left 


for the use of orators and pamphleteers who were less 
ready than himself to draw sword for their opinions. 
His manners were bluff and downright, of the country 
rather than the town ; but he had a noble nature, and 
his faults were those which do not alienate affection. 
His wife accompanied him to Canada, and followed 
him on the march. She was endowed with what the 
third Lord Holland called "the Fox temper," and with 
all the Fox charm of mind and manner. Lady Harriet 
became a universal favourite with the officers of Acland's 
regiment, who, under her gentle sway, were enlivened 
and refined by home influences, and, (so far as she and 
her husband could provide them,) well supplied with 
home comforts.^ 

The rest of Burgoyne's force, outside his British 
regiments, was of heterogeneous origin and most 
uncertain quality. He had expected great things from 
the Canadian militia, who in former wars had marched 
out to support the French army with much docility, and 
in considerable numbers. But the British rule was 
popular in Canada mainly because the inhabitants were 
no longer liable to be called away from their farming 
and fishing in order to fight against King George ; 
and, now that they were asked to fight for him, 
only seven or eight score of them appeared in arms. 
Burgoyne's command included more than three thou- 
sand Germans, who were mostly Brunswickers. That 
was an honourable name in military annals ; but the 
soldiers whom the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick 
had so often led to victory during the Seven Years' 
War were very different from the throng of recruits 
whom, in March 1776, he shipped for England at thirty 

I " I was much pleased at a little politesse of that amiable woman, 
Lady Harriet Acland. Exclusive of the excellent qualities that had 
already endeared her to the officers of the grenadiers, she thought 
proper to express a sense of their attention to her, (and who could be 
inattentive?) by some little present. So a few days before the officers 
took the field, she sent each of them, (thirty in number,) half a large 
Cheshire cheese ; which was no such small present as you may imagine, 
English cheese being then a dollar per pound." Travels through the 
Interior Parts of America-, Letter XVIIL 



crowns a head. The majority of them had been swept 
into the ranks by wholesale conscription ; and the most 
productive haul of the net was said to have been made 
on a certain Sunday, when gangs of crimps simulta- 
neously beset every place of worship throughout the 
Duchy. That story was current in the British army, 
and found ready credence with those among our officers 
who were cantoned with the Germans in Canada. The 
intelhgent and experienced English colonels who went 
down from London to Portsmouth, for the purpose of 
mustering the Brunswick contingent into King George's 
service, had reported that a very large proportion of the 
privates were either half -grown lads or elderly civilians.^ 
Of the captains, and the subalterns, many were broken- 
down veterans, brought out of retirement by the threat 
of losing their half-pay if they showed themselves 
recalcitrant ; and some even among the ensigns were 
too old for the evolutions of a field-day, and far too old 
for the backwoods. The troops had been sent from 
Brunswick so badly clothed and shod that, when they 
reached our shores, a new outfit had to be procured for 
them at the expense of the British Treasury ; and, 
even then, they sailed for North America with no over- 
coats. Those of them who were parents and house- 
holders suffered miserably from home-sickness during 
the dreary Canadian winter; and their dejection preyed 
upon their health to an extent that attracted the obser- 
vation, and excited the pity, of their more stout-hearted 
British comrades.^ 

Burgoyne's Germans had the good fortune to be 
under the fatherly care of an excellent officer. Baron 

1 Lowell's Hessians; Chapter 9. Letter from Colonel Harcourt of 
April 3, 1776. Travels through the Interior Parts of America; 
Letter LXIX. 

'•^ " The Germans, to the number of twenty and thirty at a time, will 
in their conversation relate to each other that they are sure that they shall 
not live to see home again, and are certain that they shall very soon die. 
Nor can any medicine or advice you can give them divert this settled 
superstition, which they as surely die martyrs to as ever it affects them. 
. . . This is a circumstance well known to every one in the army." 
Travels through the interior Parts of America \ Letter of January 28th, 


Friedrich Adolph von Riedesel possessed the homely 
virtues, the frugal orderly habits, and the scrupulous, if 
not very enlightened, sense of duty, which then were 
often to be found among noble families in the smaller 
German States. A Hessian by birth, and a soldier from 
boyhood, he had transferred himself to the Brunswick 
service, where he was honoured by the approval, and ad- 
vanced by the favour, of Prince Ferdinand. General 
Riedesel was a punctual and a painstaking officer ; but 
his military reputation, if left to itself, would not have 
outlasted his lifetime ; and he is known to posterity, re- 
spectably enough, as the husband of his wife. The 
Letters and Journals of Madame Riedesel, in their 
original form, and still more in the English translation, 
are, and will long remain, a standard work. Her book 
portrays British and German manners of four genera- 
tions ago with native skill, and an agreeable absence of 
literary pretension or affectation, marred by a taste for 
reckless, and sometimes rather malicious, gossip ; and 
she has drawn a vivid, and exceedingly unvarnished, 
picture of town and country life in the interior districts 
of the revolted colonies, where the poor lady's hard 
fate compelled her to make a very protracted sojourn. 
To her and Lady Harriet Acland, — and to a worthy 
lieutenant who published a narrative of the campaign 
in the shape of seventy-nine epistles to his friends in 
England, — the world is indebted for an intimate ac- 
quaintance with what may be called the domestic history 
of Burgoyne's expedition. Madame Riedesel left her 
home three months after the General's departure ; passed 
the winter in London ; and rejoined her husband near 
Montreal, in June 1777, a very few days before the 
army marched. Riedesel had written to his wife regu- 
larly all the while their separation lasted ; and his letters 
treated of many topics. He discoursed on the dangers 
of the ocean; the climate and scenery of Canada; the 
health and conduct of his soldiers ; his own opportuni- 
ties for religious worship and meditation ; and the 
defects or conveniences of the quarters which he succes- 


sively occupied. He descanted, with never-failing in- 
terest, and impressive gravity, on his dinners and 
suppers, on the quality of the viands, the peculiarities 
of the cooking, and the market-price, (when he could 
manage to ascertain it,) of every article of food and 
drink which was set before him. But nowhere in his 
correspondence was there any reference whatever to 
the merits of the dispute in which he was engaged as a 
combatant. It apparently had not crossed his mind to 
inquire on which side of the quarrel justice lay, and 
why he himself had come to America with the object 
of killing people who had never wronged his own coun- 
try or his own Sovereign. 

In an unfortunate hour, and in spite of Sir Guy Carle- 
ton's earnest and reiterated protests, the Cabinet had 
insisted that the invading force should be attended by a 
strong party of Indian warriors. Five hundred of them 
obeyed the summons ; actuated, (it is not uncharitable 
to beheve,) by no settled conviction with regard to the 
fiscal or constitutional questions at issue between Con- 
gress and the Parliament at Westminster. They were 
allured into the British camp by the prospect of getting 
as much rum as they cared to drink, and by the more 
ideal ambition of obtaining scalps to decorate their 
wigwams; for they set greater store on these hor- 
rible ornaments than did Cornwallis on the blue ribbon 
which he wore with reluctance, or Burgoyne on the red 
ribbon which he could never be prevailed on to accept.-^ 
Lord North and his colleagues were not acting in igno- 
rance ; inasmuch as a very recent incident had thrown a 
glaring light on the true nature of Indian warfare. In 
the course of the previous year, at the battle of The 
Cedars on the Canadian frontier, a considerable number 
of New Hampshire militiamen had surrendered to the 

1 " At one of the Indian encampments," Lieutenant Anburey writes, 
" I saw several scalps hanging upon poles, in front of their wigwams. 
One of them had remarkably fine long hair hanging to it. An officer 
that was with me wanted to purchase it, at which the Indian seemed 
highly offended ; nor would he part with this barbarous trophy, although 
he was offered so strong a temptation as a bottle of rum." 



British commander on a distinct understanding that they 
would be protected from his Indian friends. But the 
red men could not be restrained. They scalped all the 
wounded Americans ; roasted one of the prisoners alive ; 
murdered seven or eight of the others ; and carried off 
the survivors into the recesses of the woods. ^ No civil- 
ised official, however honest and resolute, could maintain 
any effective control over the wayward minds and unbri- 
dled appetites of the savages ; and that truth was daily, 
and most disagreeably, brought home to the unlucky 
gentleman who held the post of Indian Superintendent. ^ 
The possession by a warrior of a scalp, and even of 
many scalps, was no real indication of his personal 
valour. An Indian brave, whose tribe had assisted the 
French or the English in their struggle for the Mississippi 
Valley, took credit for the heads of hair which he tore 
from the soldiers who had been killed or disabled by 
their European adversaries in fair stand-up conflict. 
The fla.xen curls of childhood, and the white locks of 
helpless old age, all counted as legitimate trophies ; 
and the long tresses of a woman were held in special 
value. The literary legend of the noble savage was 
not yet in vogue, and it would assuredly have found very 
sceptical readers in the officers of General Burgoyne's 
army. Any illusions which a subaltern, fresh from 
England, might have entertained about Indian chivalry 
and fidelity were dispelled weeks before the expedition 
arrived on the upper waters of the Hudson River. As 
fighting men, during the whole of the Saratoga cam- 
paign, our Wyandots and Algonquins were a great deal 

'^ American Archives. Washington to the President of Congress ; 15 
July, 1776. 

'^ " A few days since I was invited to dine with Captain Frazer, who 
is superintendent over the Indians. We had scarcely drank five glasses 
when the Indians returned, upon a pretence of business to him, which 
was no other than that of procuring more rum ; which Captain Frazer 
refusing them, they grew extremely troublesome, and, with the liquor 
they had already drank, were much beyond any control. They paid no 
attention to Captain Frazer, who, finding he could not pacify or in any 
way get rid of them, made us an apology, and the company broke up." 
The above passage occurs in Lieutenant Anburey's nineteenth letter. 


worse than useless. More than one promising com. 
bination for surrounding and surprising the enemy was 
ruined by their premature appearance on the scene of 
action, and their disorderly flight when the firing began 
in earnest.^ And when a success had been gained, and 
the English regiments advanced to occupy the hostile 
position, our soldiers were shocked by the sight of living 
forms, hideously disfigured, writhing in agony on the 
ground ; for the scalp-hunters, who had been invisible 
during the heat of the combat, always contrived to slip 
through to the front as soon as ever the danger ended. 

The presence of the red man in Burgoyne's ranks 
was defended in the House of Commons on the plea 
that the same thing had been done before. Precedents 
were discovered in the Iroquois who co-operated with 
Montcalm, and the Oneidas who in 1758 helped Brad- 
street to capture the stronghold of Frontenac on Lake 
Ontario. Those precedents wxre not in point. The 
French and the English governments had more than 
once accepted Indian aid against the regular armies of 
a foreign enemy ; but that case was very different from 
the employment of savages for the purpose of reducing 
to obedience the population of thickly inhabited and 
industrial districts. In the campaigns of the French 
wars the antagonists of the Indians were professional 
soldiers who had marched into the desert armed for 
attack and defence, and who were prepared manfully to 
encounter all the perils and misadventures which might 
befall them in the pursuit of their military duties. The 
battles, moreover, which decided those campaigns were 
fought in the very heart of the Indian country ; and 
Cherokees and Hurons would under any circumstances 
have flocked uninvited to the field of carnage as 
instinctively, and in almost as great numbers, as the 
carrion-crows and the wolves. But Connecticut and 

1 Sir Guy Carleton was thoroughly acquainted with the mih'tary value 
of the Indians. "They were easily dejected," he said, "and chose to be 
of the strongest side ; so that, when they were the most wanted, they 

G 2 


Massachusetts, and the Eastern townships of New York 
State and of Pennsylvania, were not heathen wilder- 
nesses, but well-to-do and well-ordered Christian com- 
munities. New England, in particular, was a region of 
assured prosperity and ancient peace, where the memory 
of the old Indian raids had long been a faint, and 
almost meaningless, tradition. Many years had rolled 
away since the boldest savages had ventured to show 
themselves in their war-paint within a .hundred miles 
of New Haven or of Boston. But now they were coming 
in hundreds, — and with thousands to follow, — in the 
wake of an invading British army ; and the tomahawk, 
the torch, and the scalping-knife would very soon be at 
work in farmhouse and village throughout tracts of 
country which for generations past had been as secure 
from such a visitation as Westmorland, or Kent, or 

A course of action which could lead to such results 
need not be treated from the point of view of ethics ; 
for it is sufficiently condemned on the ground of its 
monstrous impolicy. The British army, small as it was, 
would have done better without any of its auxiliaries ; 
for the strength which they contributed was more than 
neutralised by the resistance which they provoked. 
Lord George Germaine, when he framed his plan of 
operations, apparently forgot that the New England 
provinces lay close up to Burgoyne's flank along the 
whole extent of his slender and unguarded line of 
march. Those provinces, the cradle and citadel of the 
revolt, swarmed with men who had some experience in 
war, and much skill with their weapon. Their tastes 
were pacific, and they required a very strong motive to 
draw them into the field ; but that motive would be 
supplied by the knowledge that a powerful column of 
German infantry, and a long file of hostile Indians, 
were travelling day after day, for months together, 
within a few miles of their own borders. The American 
minute-man, in open fight, was not the least afraid of 
either the Indians or the Germans; but Germans and 


Indians were the very last people in the world whom 
he would wish to see in the immediate neighbourhood 
of his home and his family. An aggressive movement 
of the British forces, in the company of such allies, was 
a menace and a challenge to New England ; and, if 
once New England were fairly roused, Burgoyne's 
communications with Canada would be cut within the 
twenty-four hours, and, before another week had elapsed, 
the safety of his whole force would be in deadly 
jeopardy. But Cabinet Ministers in London had talked 
themselves and each other, and had tried to talk Parlia- 
ment, into a belief that every New Englander was 
a born poltroon, whose forefathers, when they sailed 
for America, had left the courage of their race be- 
hind them. Germaine's moral obtuseness on this vital 
point, combined with his portentous blunders in strategy, 
had prepared a bad future for the gallant British cohorts 
which went forth to battle under his ill-omened auspices. 

As if the rebellious colonies were not sufficiently 
alive to the prospective horrors of an Indian raid, 
Burgoyne himself, of his own motion, gave those 
horrors the loudest possible advertisement. With 
characteristic avidity he seized an opportunity for 
making an oration as soon as he had crossed the 
frontier, and got beyond the hearing of Sir Guy 
Carleton. On the twenty-third of June, 1777, he con- 
veyed to the assembled Indians, in glowing terms, the 
satisfaction and gratitude which their conduct had 
evoked in King George's mind. He praised their 
ardour to vindicate the authority of the Parent whom 
they loved, and the constraint which they had put 
upon their resentment in waiting for their Father's call 
to arms. " Emulous in glory and in friendship," he 
exclaimed, " we will endeavour reciprocally to give and 
to receive examples. We will strive to imitate your 
perseverance in enterprise, and your constancy to 
resist hunger, weariness, and pain ; and, in return, it 
will be our task to point out where it is nobler to spare 


than to revenge, — to discriminate degrees of guilt, to 
chastise and not to destroy." In former wars, (the 
orator went on to say,) Indians had held themselves 
entitled to extirpate wherever they came ; but during 
this expedition they must scrupulously obey the rules 
of civilised warfare, and the dictates of the Christian 
religion. In conformity with their customs they would 
be allowed to take scalps from the slain, but not from 
the wounded, nor even from the dying ; and aged men, 
women, children, and prisoners were to be held sacred 
from the knife and the hatchet. Within those limits, 
and under these reservations, they might give full scope 
to their outraged loyalty and their righteous indigna- 
tion. " Warriors ! " Burgoyne exclaimed, " you are 
free ! Go forth in the might and valour of your cause ! 
Strike at the common enemies of Great Britain and 
America ; — the disturbers of public order, peace, and 
happiness ; the destroyers of commerce ; the parricides 
of the State ! " The General's audience relished his 
perorations, of which there were several in the course 
of the speech ; and the style of his address, as trans- 
mitted through the mouth of an official interpreter, was 
a flattering imitation of the rhetoric employed in their 
own palavers. The duty of reply devolved upon an old 
Iroquois chief, who, determined not to be outdone in 
the practice of his national art by a stranger and a 
pale-face, assured lUngoyne that the warriors there 
present recognised in his accents the voice of their 
common Father beyond the Great Lake, and that their 
hatchets had been sharpened on the whet-stone of 
their filial affections. 

Burgoyne transmitted to England a full and faithful 
report of these proceedings, which was very ill received 
by London society. His speech to the Indians shocked 
humane and homely people ; and the least fastidious man 
of the world did not care to be publicly reminded that 
the English army was assisted by aUies with whom our 
Government kept a running account for scalps, and 
who required to be solemnly and specifically warned 


against the practice of murdering and mutilating chil- 
dren and women. The same packet carried home 
copies of a proclamation which Burgoyne addressed 
from his camp before Ticonderoga to the inhabitants 
of the revolted colonies. His parliamentary colleagues, 
— who knew, and did not like, his style of rhetoric, — 
had already detected his hand in State Papers which 
professed to come from General Gage's pen.^ Bur- 
goyne, now that he himself was in command, seemed 
determined that there should be no mistake about the 
authorship of his own manifesto ; for it was prefaced 
by a pompous list of his titles and employments which 
must have sounded exquisitely absurd when declaimed 
by George Selwyn from the hearth-rug at Brooks's 
Club. The threats of condign vengeance, set forth in 
the last two paragraphs, were regarded by all rational 
statesmen as monstrously impolitic ; ^ and the whole 
composition was a mass of inflated and over-polished 
verbiage of the sort which always, and never more 
than in Burgoyne's own generation, has been repugnant 
to the English taste. " Have you," (said Horace Wal- 
pole,) "read Burgoyne's rhodomontade, in which he 
almost promises to cross America in a hop, step, and 
a jump ? He has sent over, too, a copy of his talk with 
the Indians, which they say is still more supernatural. 

^ George Germaine to General Irwin; July 26, 1775. TJig Drayton 
House Manuscripts ; Page 136. 

'^ " In consciousness of Christianity, my Royal Master's clemency, and 
the honour of soldiership, I have dwelt upon this invitation, and wished 
for more persuasive terms to give it impression. And let not the people 
be led to disregard it by considering their distance from the immediate 
situation of my camp ! I have but to give stretch to the Indian forces 
under my direction, (and they amount to thousands,) to overtake the 
hardened enemies of Great Britain and America ; and I consider them 
the same, wherever they may lurk." 

"If notwithstanding these endeavours, and sincere inclinations, the 
frenzy of hostility should remain, I trust I shall stand acquitted in the 
eyes of God and men in denouncing and executing the vengeance of 
the State against the wilful outcasts. The messengers of justice and 
wrath await them in the field ; and devastation, famine, and every con- 
comitant horror that a reluctant but indispensable prosecution of military 
duty must occasion, will bar the way to their return." 


I own I prefer General Howe's taciturnity, who at least, 
if he does nothing, does not break his word."^ ThaV 
was the opinion very generally held by men who could 
recall the brief and bluff terms in which Lord Chatham's 
commanders on sea and land, — after a battle, but not 
before it, — were accustomed to announce their vic- 
tories ; and whose grandfathers had known nothing 
about the projected movement against the lines at 
Blenheim until they were informed by the Duke of 
Marlborough that Monsieur Tallard, and two other 
French generals, were sitting in his coach. 

Burgoyne's proclamation was, of course, even worse 
liked by Americans than by P^nglishmen ; and in 
America his unlucky production fell into adroit and 
merciless hands. Francis Hopkinson had been sent 
from the Jerseys as a delegate to Congress; and he 
eventually mounted the Judicial Bench. A sturdy 
Revolutionist, he was less a politician or a lawyer than 
a man of letters, with a passion for modelling his style 
upon the British classics. He began with pretty trifles 
in the manner of Herrick and Withers ; his sea-ballads 
and hunting songs have all a far-away echo of ancient 
and very familiar strains; and, when he first took to 
prose, he caught the spirit of the shorter pieces that 
emanated from the pens of Swift and Arbuthnot. The 
time now arrived when this talent for imitation became 
of real service to the political cause which Francis 
Hopkinson had espoused ; for he dashed off, and put 
into circulation, a burlesque reply to the English 
general's prcK^lamation. That clever and biting parody 
pursued the original manifesto all over the Confederacy, 
and had the double effect of making Americans very 
angry, and exceedingly contemptuous of Burgoyne's 
long-winded menaces.^ 

^ Horace Walpole to the Countess of Ossory ; Strawberry Hill, Aug. 8, 

■^ Professor Tyler remarks that Francis Hopkinson's satire everywhere 
excited roars of laughter "over a situation in which there was much to 
give alarm, but with respect to which mere laughter was an antidote 
to popular panic." Literary History of the American Revolution \ Chap- 
ter XXX. 


The troops of the Royal army were well furnished 
at all points, and united in willing obedience to their 
leader ; but in the opposite camp there was confusion, 
improvidence, dissension, and mutual distrust. During 
the year 1777, and the first six months of 1778, while 
mihtary operations of cardinal importance to the 
destiny of America were in progress, the American 
government was passing through a political and admin- 
istrative crisis of a nature which has seldom failed to 
occur, sooner or later, in the course of every great 
revolutionary struggle in modern or ancient times. 
The question at issue was the claim of the politicians 
to appoint and remove the generals, and to control the 
war ; and the circumstances under which that claim 
was raised, pursued, and finally set at rest, supply 
a great deal of unedifying, and rather disagreeable, 
reading. The dispute was fought out within the walls 
of Congress amidst much ill-feeling, and some indif- 
ference to the laws of honour. Disproportioned 
ambitions, and ignoble rivalries, too frequently ruled 
the hour. But those sentiments exhaled themselves 
in debates across the floor, and cabals in the Committee- 
rooms ; and in captious, and occasionally somewhat 
vulgar-minded, letters which certain distinguished states- 
men had much better have left unwritten. America 
contrived to get through her difficulties without the 
rioting, the bloodshed, and the violations of the or- 
dinary law, which have prevailed at similar conjunc- 
tures in the history of other famous countries. Phil- 
adelphia, at the very height of the controversy, was 
a much quieter city than the London of 1648 and 
1653, or than Paris in the Reign of Terror. There 
was no brawling in her streets ; no proscriptions, or 
judicial murders ; no suspension of the civil constitu- 
tion by the armed hand of the soldier. The successful 
and peaceable solution of the problem was primarily 
due to the calm self-control, and the patient tenacity 
of purpose, which were exhibited by George Washing- 
ton ; and yet even those qualities would have failed of 


their effect if there had not been plenty of good sense 
and sterling patriotism in the community at large. 

The view of the politicians was very emphatically 
stated by Doctor Benjamin Rush, a delegate from 
Pennsylvania. '' I have heard," said Rush, '* the Con- 
gress called a Republic. I love to realise the idea, and 
I hope it will inspire us with the virtuous principles of 
Republican Governments. One of the most powerful 
and happy commonwealths in the world, Rome, called 
her general officers from the plough, and paid no regard 
to rank, service, or seniority. The case is different with 
us. A general may lose a battle or a province, and we 
possess no power to recall or to displace him." ^ That 
speech was an oblique stroke at the Commander-in- 
Chief, who had all along been a mark for civilian 
jealousy. But the lustre of Trenton was not as yet 
dimmed by failure or defeat ; and Washington, for 
some while to come, remained too strong to be directly 
and personally assailed. The brunt of the attack was 
concentrated on a more defenceless head. 

The Northern department, of which Albany was the 
military capital, had from the first been under the 
command of Major General Philip Schuyler. Schuyler's 
valour and conduct, while he was still a young captain 
of militia, met with signal recognition on more than one 
memorable occasion. In September 1755, when the 
colonists had gained their brilliant and unassisted vic- 
tory on the banks of Lake George, he was sent home in 
charge of the French prisoners ; and, after General 
Abercromby's defeat at Ticonderoga, he was chosen 
for the melancholy and honourable duty of conveying 
Viscount Howe's body to Albany for burial. But his 
health failed early in life ; and, by the time the Revo- 
lutionary War broke out, he was able to take the field 
only during short, and very uncertain, intervals. In 
the capacity of a military administrator, however, 
though less able and experienced than Washington, he 

1 Debate of February 19, 1777. Historical Notes of Dr. Benjamin 
Rushy extracted from his Note-book by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell : 1903. 


was as industrious and unselfish as the Commander-in- 
Chief himself. Schuyler loved his country sincerely 
and singly, and he gave her the whole of his time and 
strength, besides great quantities of his money, and, (for 
many years together,) all his peace of mind and his 
happiness. He was fiercely calumniated while alive, 
and since his death he has met with some unfair 
treatment at the hand of history; but his good fame 
has survived all assaults, whether contemporaneous or 
posthumous; and he now is almost universally recog- 
nised as an honest and devoted friend to America. 

Schuyler had the supreme misfortune of being 
heartily disliked in Boston ; and a statesman or a 
general of the Revolution, who was out of favour with 
the Bostonians, had as small a chance of making a 
good figure in history as an Anglo-Saxon or Plantage- 
net monarch who had offended the clergy and the 
monastic chroniclers. The quarrel was of old date. 
For many years before the American Revolution the 
governments of New York, and of Massachusetts Bay, 
had been engaged in an angry controversy over their 
respective rights to the territory which is now Vermont, 
and which then was known by the title of " The Hamp- 
shire Grants." On more than one occasion very high- 
handed action was taken by the authorities of New 
York ; and Schuyler, as the leading citizen in that 
colony, became identified with proceedings which the 
whole of New England rightly condemned as unjust 
and tyrannical.^ When the Revolutionary War com- 
menced, the standing antipathy between the Northern 
and the Middle provinces soon made itself felt in 
Schuyler's ranks. Massachusetts and Connecticut, — 
thickly peopled, and situated near at hand, — formed 
a natural source of supply, whence the army stationed 
at Albany drew most of its reinforcements ; but the 
General, and the great majority of his soldiers, were 

1 Life of General Philip Schuyler, by Bayard Tuckerman ; Chapter 3. 
The Ufe and Times of Philip Schuyler^ by Benson J. Lossing, LL.D. ; 
Chapter 12. 


prejudiced against each other from the outset, and a 
more intimate acquaintance only served to embitter 
their relations. They eyed him with suspicion as an 
aristocrat ; and, from the intellectual elevation of born 
New Englanders, they looked down on him as a slow- 
witted Dutchman. He, on his side, held them in poor 
esteem as bad drills and great talkers, devoid of any 
germ of deference for social rank, and incapable of 
military discipline and subordination.^ Schuyler con- 
fided his troubles to Washington, who gave him both 
sympathy and wise counsel in a series of noble letters, 
which are written for all time, and may still be read 
with comfort and advantage by any servant of the 
public whose burden, for the moment, seems to him 
heavier than he can bear.^ The seed, in this case, fell 
upon good soil. " I can easily conceive," (such was 
Schuyler's answer,) " that my difficulties are only a faint 
semblance of yours. Yes, my General, I will try to 
copy your bright example, and patiently and steadily 
persevere in that line which alone can promise the 
wishcd-for reformation." 

Schuyler's expressions of regret were genuine, and 
his pledge of amendment was faithfully kept ; but the 
people who were at variance with him did not come of 
a repenting, or a quickly forgiving, race. The New 
England militia repaired to his assistance tardily and 
reluctantly ; when they arrived in camp they minded 
their duties little, and their manners less ; and they 
went back to their homes in crowds without any regard 
for the requirements of the service, and on very flimsy 
pretexts.^ The New England delegates to the Congress 

^ The case is impartially handled by a conscientious and fair-minded 
New Englander, the chaplain to a regiment of Connecticut militia. A 
passage from his correspondence, which deserves reading, has been given 
in the First Appendix to this volume. 

2 Washington to Schuyler ; Cambridge, 5th and 24th December, 1775. 
A fine extract from a third letter is quoted in the fourth chapter of 
Tuckerman's Life of Schuyler. 

^ '* Nothing," wrote Schuyler, ** can surpass the impatience of the 
troops from the New England colonies to get to their fire-sides. Near 


at Philadelphia, (and in the long run that proved to be 
a serious matter for Schuyler,) were his ill-wishers and 
detractors almost to a man. Those delegates were the 
main strength of the anti-military party which Samuel 
Adams led, and which John Adams, with many self- 
questionings, fitfully supported. The better people 
among them, when they thwarted and hampered Gen- 
eral Schuyler, justified themselves by the theory that 
they were asserting their own legitimate authority over 
the army and its chiefs ; but the meaner spirits were 
perfectly well aware that, under the guise of concern 
for the public interests, they were satiating a personal 
grudge. They discovered an apt instrument for their 
purpose in a man who is unfavourably remembered by 
all patriotic Americans, because he was the centre of 
mischievous intrigues, and the hero of shabby scandals, 
which constitute the most unseemly and notorious 
episode in the story of their national Revolution. 

Crown Point had already been recovered by the Brit- 
ish arms, and Ticonderoga was now the frontier fortress 
of the rebellion. The garrison was commanded by Major- 
General Horatio Gates, — as garrisons are commanded 
by an officer who seldom, or never, can find leisure to 
be at his post. Gates was qualified by nature to make 
his way, fast and far, in any profession where advance- 
ment goes by favour. He has been truly described as 
" comely in person, mild in disposition, and courteous in 
manner, except when roused to anger or influenced by 
spite, when he sometimes became very violent."^ Under 
a European monarchy he would have been assiduous in 
his attendance at the levee and in the ante-chamber ; 
and, in a Congress-governed nation, he was a soldier of 
the lobby rather than of the skirmish-line. During that 

three hundred of them arrived a few days ago, unable to do any duty ; 
but as soon as I administered that grand specific, a discharge, they 
instantly acquired health ; and, rather than be detained a few days to 
cross Lake George, they undertook a march from here of two hundred 
miles with the greatest alacrity." 

^ The Ainerican RevoluHon, by John Fiske ; Chapter 6. 


war of small, and often half-trained, armies, fighting up 
and down a wild and broken country, the leaders on 
both sides made it a point of honour to set an example of 
personal valour, and, (in case of need,) even of headlong 
audacity. Cornwallis and Percy, Arnold, Stark, and 
Washington never spared themselves in action ; but it is 
credibly stated that Gates, throughout the whole of his 
Northern campaign, did not so much as hear a bullet 
whistle. During the siege of Boston, Gates was Adjutant 
General in the camp at Cambridge ; and he used his 
opportunities; for he was at great pains to ingratiate him- 
self with the New England officers and soldiers, and he 
established an intimate, and most profitable, alliance with 
New England politicians. Congress elected him a Major 
General : and in June 1776 he was sent to the Northern 
frontier as second in authority under General Schuyler. 
As soon as Gates was installed at Ticonderoga he set him- 
self deUberately down to the business of undermining, 
overthrowing, and supplanting his superior officer. For 
three months to come he despatched by every post very 
private letters addressed to New England members of 
Congress, filled with charges and innuendoes against his 
chief, and with artful allusions to the popularity which he 
himself enjoyed among those intelligent and liberty-loving 
New England militia-men who were so acute in discrim- 
inating between a bad and a good commander. When 
November arrived, he applied for leave of absence on the 
plea of weak health, and followed his own correspond- 
ence to Baltimore, where Congress then was sitting. 

In the course of his journey he reached the banks of 
the Delaware River, and there fell in with an unex- 
pected and unique opportunity of proving his worth 
as a valiant soldier. Washington, surprised, but heartily 
pleased, when a full Major General dropped from the 
clouds into his camp at the critical instant of the cam- 
paign, invited his guest to lead the right-hand column 
in the attack upon the Hessians at Trenton. It was a 
chance for which Anthony Wayne, who was left in care 
of the sick and starving troops at Ticonderoga through 


the whole of that cruel winter, would have given ten 
years of his life, and his pay for ever.^ But Gates had 
come South to fight his own battles, and no others. He 
declined to give Washington the benefit of his assistance ; 
he pushed on for Baltimore ; and two months afterwards 
he obsequiously followed Congress back to Philadelphia. 
In both cities he worked pertinaciously and insidiously; 
urging his own claims, and inspiring a course of action 
against General Schuyler which did not stop short of 
downright persecution. Gates at length received the 
reward of his importunity ; for he was ordered by a Reso- 
lution of Congress to go immediately to Ticonderoga, and 
there to assume independent command of the field-army. 
That vote was resented by Schuyler as a slight on 
his services, and a stain upon his character ; and his 
cause was warmly and loyally espoused by the citizens 
of his native State. The New York Convention, then 
and there, elected him a delegate to Congress, where he 
rose in his place to insist upon a public and official 
inquiry into the whole of his past conduct. An honest 
man, who has suffered an unmerited injury, is his own 
best advocate. Schuyler's dignified attitude, and plainly 
told story, made a deep impression on his senatorial 
colleagues ; his merits were handsomely acknowledged ; 
and he was once again definitely invested with absolute 
military control over the entire Northern department. 
He repaired to his province with all possible haste ; but 
six months of invaluable time had been consumed in 
these barren wrangles. June had come ; and, before 
that month ended, Burgoyne's advance-guard was al- 
ready within a few miles of the American out-posts. 
Schuyler, and his staff-officers, were sadly behindhand 
with their work at the base of operations ; and at 
Ticonderoga, in the extreme front, all the arrangements 
for the reception of an enemy were in utter and hope- 

1 The relative estimate in which Wayne held money, and military 
glory, was well-known to his contemporaries. Long after this date John 
Adams saw him upon his return from a successful warlike operation. 
•'This man's feelings," he wrote, "must be worth a guinea a minute." 


less disorder and neglect. For General Gates, when h^ 
left Philadelphia in triumph at the close of March, had 
returned towards, but not to, his post of duty ; and he 
still was lingering at Albany when the news reached 
him that the Central Government had gone back upon 
its previous decision, and that Schuyler was again his 
commanding officer. He at once threw patriotism to 
the winds, and posted off to Congress, boiling with in- 
dignation, and intent upon calling the faithless Assem- 
bly to account for his disappointed hopes, whatever 
might be the consequences to his own career, or to the 
safety of his threatened country. 

It was a sordid and repulsive story; but an author 
who kept it in the back-ground of his narrative would 
be no true historian of the American Revolution. The 
ugliest feature in the whole business was the indifference 
displayed by General Gates to the misery of his soldiers. 
While he was cajoling influential politicians in the 
warmer latitude of Baltimore, the men whom he had 
left behind him on the frost-bound shores of Lake 
Champlain were in a forlorn and wretched plight. The 
small-pox, which they brought back with them from 
Canada, had never been eradicated ; dysentery was in 
all their quarters; and pulmonary diseases were preva- 
lent under such conditions of want, and exposure, that an 
attack of pneumonia was a sentence of death. The 
national treasury was so nearly empty, and the contents 
of the national magazines had run so low, that troops, 
whose commander did not press their claims hotly and 
persistently, were sure to come off very badly in the 
competition for money and supplies. If Benedict 
Arnold had been in the place of Horatio Gates, the 
garrison under his charge would have got the best of 
what was producible, poor and scanty as that best 
might be. But the unfortunate people at Ticonderoga, 
with no one to champion their interests, had " nothing 
but flour and bad beef, with no beds or bedding for the 



sick to lie on or under, other than their own clothes ; *' ^ 
and in that sorrowful camp the sick outnumbered the 
hale. Nine hundred pairs of shoes, and no more, were 
served out in the course of the winter ; and a third part 
of the army was doing duty barefoot with a thermom- 
eter below zero. ** It cannot," (so a trustworthy eye-wit- 
ness passionately declared,) **be viewed in a milder 
light than black murder. The poor creatures are now, 
(what's left alive,) laying on the cold ground in poor 
thin tentSj and some none at all, and many down with 
pleuris]^ I paid a visit to the sick yesterday to a small 
house called the hospital. The first object presented to 
my eyes was one man laying dead at the door ; then, 
inside, two more dead, with two living between them."^ 
So m.atters stood at the close of November ; and, when 
May arrived, there was still no improvement or increase 
in the daily ration ; no m.edical remedies except the ap- 
proach of more genial weather ; and no reinforcements 
for an army which by this time had dwindled to the 
p>'jportions of a handful. Nothing remained except the 
iag-end of that assemblage of regiments which had gone 
through two unsuccessful campaigns, two severe winters, 
and a whole series of deadly epidemics. 

Schuyler, at the eleventh hour, did his utmost to re- 
pair the neghgences of the past ; but the season for 
preparation was drawing to a close, and the enemy was 
already at the gate. He resumed his functions at 
Albany on the eighth of June ; and on the fifteenth of 
the same month he learned from a captured British spy 
that Burgoyne's army was concentrated on the frontier, 
and that Seneca warriors and Tory partisans were 
mustering at the springs of the Mohawk River. The 
defence of Ticonderoga was committed to Major General 
St. Clair, the best of Schuyler's Brigadiers ; if such a 

^ Colonel Anthony Wayne to the Council of Safety of Pennsylvania : 
December 4, 1776. "Death," he wrote ten days afterwards, " is daily 
making dreadful havock amongst us Pennsylvanians. I have buried 
out of my own Regiment, since you left this ground, upwards of fifty 

2 Letter in American Archives of December 1776. 



title could properly be given to officers each of whose 
brigades would have made a poor show beside the war 
strength of a European regiment. St. Clair had no 
light burden upon him ; for the attention of every news- 
writer, on either side of the Atlantic, was fixed upon 
the stronghold for whose safety he was now responsible. 
Ticonderoga had a varied, and a most sensational, mili- 
tary record. In July 1758 it had been attacked by a 
large force of British regulars and colonial militia, 
rashly and clumsily led by General James Abercromby, 
who was a soldier of a very much inferior type to his 
namesake Ralph. Montcalm repulsed that force from 
before the walls with appalling slaughter ; but the French 
were eventually frightened out of Ticonderoga by the 
advance of Lord Amherst at the head of one of those 
powerful and well-appointed armies with which, like a 
prudent commander, he always preferred to march. 
Early in the Revolution, just three weeks after Lexing- 
ton, the fortress was surprised and captured, without a 
blow or a shot, by Ethan Allen ; — under the special 
grace, (according to' his own account,) of the Great 
Jehovah, and with the more mundane, but very effectual, 
co-operation of Benedict Arnold. The event caused an 
extraordinary outburst of pride and gratification through- 
out the entire Confederacy ; and patriotic Americans 
thenceforward held it as an article of faith that Ticon- 
deroga was impregnable against all assailants who were 
less enterprising, and less dear to Providence, than 

Ticonderoga was situated on the Western shore of the 
fork where Lake Champlain branches Southward into 
two long and narrow gulfs. The contour of the ground 
and water closely resembled the lower end of Lake 
Como, and almost rivalled that classical district in 
beauty of scenery.^ The Americans had diligently 

^ " Lake George is the most picturesque thing I saw in the United 
States. Three of our English Lakes, placed on end, would be something 
like it in extent and scenery." Herbert Spencer's Autobiography ; 
Chapter 62. Lake George was the Westernmost of the two Southern 


applied themselves to extend, — and, as they fondly 
imagined, to strengthen, — the fortifications. The result 
of their labours conspicuously illustrated both the 
merits, and the faults, of their military engineering ; 
for the work was admirably executed, and ignorantly 
planned. On the Eastern bank, immediately opposite 
Ticonderoga, they had erected an exceedingly elaborate 
citadel, on which they conferred their favourite, and 
not very distinctive, appellation of " Fort Indepen- 
dence." 1 Across the breadth of the lake, between the 
two fortresses, they had built a bridge of vast span and 
solid fabric, overcoming with audacious ingenuity all 
the mechanical difficulties of their task. If such a 
work had been constructed by Julius Caesar's army, 
the description of it, to the distraction of modern 
schoolboys, would have filled whole chapters of his 
Commentaries. And yet all the trouble expended on 
Ticonderoga had been worse than wasted ; for the 
circuit of the intrenchments was now so large as to 
require a garrison of ten thousand men. St. Clair's 
troops, all told, — and many of them were not worth 
telling, -— amounted to only a quarter of that number. 
Eight out of every nine of his privates were unprovided 
with bayonets ; the disheartening effect of which cir- 
cumstance on the defenders of a position, before the 
days of the breech-loader, could hardly be over-rated. 
And, again, the nature of the locality was such that a 
besieger, who kept his eyes about him, might have the 
place at his mercy without ever running the risks of an 
assault by storm. At the Northern point of the prom- 
ontory, which divided the two branches of the lake, a 
rugged acclivity, then known as Sugar Hill, rose six 
hundred feet above the surface of the water. If 
Burgoyne's heavy guns were planted on the summit, 
Ticonderoga would from that moment forward be 
untenable. A small redoubt on the top of the crag 

1 Within a twelvemonth of the Fourth of July, 1 776, there already were 
no fewer than three important fortresses of that name on the line between 
Crown Point and Manhattan Island. 



would have been worth, many times over, all the costly 
and pretentious additions that had recently been made 
to the defences of the neighbourhood ; but the American 
generals, after taking the matter into their consideration, 
had pronounced Sugar Hill inaccessible to artillery. 

The mountain might have preserved that reputation 
until the end of time if the British general, and his 
principal advisers, had been less capable masters of 
their profession. The Royal fleet reached Crown 
Point towards the close of June ; our troops were dis- 
embarked ; our ships of war, small and great, were 
cleared for action ; and Ticonderoga, with all the out- 
lying forts, was expeditiously, and most skilfully, 
invested both by land and water. Those splendid and 
easy successes, which almost immediately ensued, must 
be scored to the credit of Burgoyne himself ; although 
he generously confessed in his despatch that he had 
been greatly indebted to the zeal and ability of an 
officer who was already a celebrated veteran. The 
campaigns of the Peninsular War and of Waterloo, more 
recent and on a larger scale, have relegated to com- 
parative obscurity many distinguished soldiers of the 
generation which preceded WelHngton ; and, among 
those who have so suffered, very few are more worthy 
of remembrance than General William Phillips of the 
Royal Artillery. Oblivion, in his case, is a double in- 
justice, because he was an honoured member of a 
branch of the service which always does its duty, and 
seldom meets with its deserts. Phillips was keenly 
alive to everything that concerned the interests, the 
renown, and the popularity of his corps. During peace 
he ruled with a light and steady hand ; and, in an age of 
duels and dissipation, the officers of the Royal Artillery 
lived together like a well-ordered family. His exploits 
in war were marked by striking originality of concep- 
tion, and vivacious daring in execution. At Minden 
the valour of the British infantry would have been ill 
seconded by either of the auxiliary arms, had it not 
been for Captain Phillips ; for he remained a captain, 


while Lord George Sackville was already a general. 
The story of his exertions, while he was bringing up 
the guns at that supreme moment, partakes of the 
mythical ; for he was popularly believed to have 
broken a whole armful of walking-canes over the backs 
of his draught-horses. It would have been well if the 
stoutest of them had on that same day, in another 
quarter of the field, been vigorously applied to a certain 
pair of human shoulders. After the battle Prince 
Ferdinand of Brunswick, exercising his privilege as a 
royal personage, requested the young artilleryman to 
accept a thousand crowns as a testimony of his admi- 
ration and his gratitude. All through the subsequent 
operations in Germany, Phillips made a point of showing 
that, however fast Lord Granby and his cavalry might 
travel, they never would leave the cannon far behind. 
He trotted the last five miles of road on the way to 
Warburg, and mended his pace as he swung his battery 
into a position where it exercised a decisive influence 
on the result of that fiery and impetuous conflict. It 
was the first occasion, according to both French and 
English authorities, when artillery had come into 
action at the gallop. And now, in the heart of the 
American wilderness, his chance had arrived for 
proving that he was as much at home in a siege as 
in a battle.^ 

Sugar Hill was carefully explored by Lieutenant 
Twiss, who was Burgoyne's Engineer in command, 
although a lieutenant still ; for promotion then went by 
favour, and favour seldom smiled upon the working 
officer. Many years afterwards the place was visited 
by Benson Lossing, a pilgrim who never allowed him- 
self to be turned back from any spot which figured in 
the history of the Revolution. He found the flank of 
the mountain such an agglomeration of broken rocks, — 

1 Carlyle, in his Frederic the Greats makes honourable mention of 
Phillips ; and there is much about him in many books which now are 
little read. Thorough justice is done to him, as to countless others, in 
the Dictionary of National Biography. 


and so encumbered with fallen timber, and with a matted 
tangle of the creepers which in America are known by 
the generic name of vines, — that the difficulties of the 
ascent proved almost insuperable.^ These obstacles, 
however, did not baffle or discourage Burgoyne's 
officer of Engineers ; and, on his return, he promised 
that he and his sappers would undertake to make a 
road which, though no highway, would be good enough 
for General Phillips when it was a question of bringing 
artillery to the front. A day and a night were spent 
in fierce labour, and in honourable emulation between 
fatigue-parties from the various regiments ; and, when 
morning broke, the British were in occupation of the 
summit. Our officers, from that coign of vantage, 
searched with their telescopes every angle of every 
hostile redoubt ; noted whether its embrasures were 
armed with cannon ; and counted its defenders, — which 
in no case was an affair of very many minutes. Both 
Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Independence lay within 
range of a plunging fire from the twenty-four pounders, 
and the eight-inch howitzers, with which the peak had 
been garnished. Phillips, then and there, rechristened 
his hill by the significant title of Mount Defiance ; and 
the people of the United States, with their wonted 
respect for historical associations, have retained that 
name till this present hour.'^ 

St. Clair had hitherto been in great heart, and in 
high spirits ; for he entertained that delusive hope 
which, ever since Bunker's Hill, had been the cherished 
ideal of all American commanders. He looked forward 
to the opportunity of repelling a general assault, de- 
livered in broad dayhght up an open glacis, and of 
disabhng the British army by the leisurely fire of his 

^ Benson Lossing's Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution ; Volume I., 
Chapter 6. 

2 Anburey, in his thirty-third letter, says that Lieutenant Twiss 
"reported the hill to have the entire command of the works and 
buildings, both at Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, at about four- 
teen hundred yards from the former, and fifteen hundred from the 


own marksmen from behind their secure intrenchments. 
On the thirtieth of June he assured Schuyler by letter 
that, if the enemy attacked Ticonderoga, they would go 
back faster than they came ; ^ but at dawn on the fifth 
of July he was called from his quarters to see the brow 
of the mountain glowing with scarlet uniforms, and the 
muzzles of siege-guns protruding over the edge of the 
platform. It was a poor awakening for an Ameri- 
can general on the morrow of Independence Day. 
St. Clair discerned at a glance that the fortress in his 
charge was doomed, and that his own chance in life 
was gone. " To remain, would be to lose his army ; to 
retreat, would be to lose his character ; " ^ and it is to 
his praise that he adopted the honest and unselfish 
course, and pursued it with all the forethought and 
precaution which his desperate situation admitted. 
The slow day went by in enforced idleness, for every 
movement within the American camp was exposed to 
the full view of a watchful adversary ; but, so soon as 
night fell, the work of evacuation began in earnest. 
More than two hundred barges were laden with stores 
and baggage, and despatched up the eastern branch of 
the lake, under the convoy of five armed galleys, the 
remnant of Benedict Arnold's ill-fated squadron. The 
troops on the western shore were marched across to 
Fort Independence ; and then the united garrisons, un- 
detected and unmolested, made good their retreat as 
far as Hubbardtown, which lay near twenty miles to the 
south of Ticonderoga. 

The most had been made of the darkness ; but at 
sunrise the British were astir on land and lake. Bur- 
goyne had inculcated upon those around him the 
necessity for vigilance and promptitude; and his ex- 

1 On the same day one of Schuyler's aides-de-camp, who had been 
kept at Ticonderoga by sickness, wrote to his general as follows : " I 
cannot but esteem myself fortunate that indisposition prevented my 
returning with you, as it has given me an opportunity of being present 
at a battle in which I promise myself the pleasure of seeing our army 
flushed with victory." 

2 Lossing's Life and Tifnes of Philip Schuyler \ Chapter 10. 


hortations were obeyed when the hour for action came. 
The Americans had placed great reliance on the com- 
pHcated and ponderous mass of impediments which 
blocked the channel between their two fortresses ; and 
they set forth on their voyage in the firm belief that 
pursuit by water was impossible. They had forgotten 
how English seamen can work even when there are 
grape-shot and musketry to distract their attention ; 
and on the present occasion our sailors had no worse 
danger to fear than a wetting, and no less powerful an 
incentive than the prospect of grappling with an enemy 
whom they had twice encountered with success, and 
whom they were resolved never again to dismiss half 
beaten. They cut through the protecting boom ; they 
ascertained the position of two among the enormous 
sunken piers ; they towed away one of the vast rafts 
which, by dint of incredible labour, had been chained 
and riveted together into a monumental bridge ; and 
in half an hour they broke a passage through barriers 
which, (to employ Burgoyne's own words,) the Ameri- 
cans had been labouring for ten months to render 
impenetrable. The Royal George and the Inflexible, 
— a pair of ships which were of a size to be dignified 
with the rating of frigates, — moved proudly through the 
opening ; and, preceded by the swiftest of the gun- 
boats, with their slower consorts crowding all sail 
in their wake, by three in the afternoon they bore 
down upon the hostile flotilla. The Americans were at 
anchor in South Bay, towards the farther end of the 
estuary, where they possessed a stockaded fort, and a 
small naval station. There was no escape for them ; 
and it was a holocaust rather than a combat. Two 
war-galleys forthwith struck their flags, and the other 
three were blown up by their own crews ; eleven score 
vessels of burden were sunk, burned, or taken ; and 
the Americans themselves, before they retired into the 
woods, set fire to the whole collection of storehouses, 
and saw-mills, and forges, and repairing-sheds. The 
flame caught the dry forest-trees amidst which the 


buildings stood, and the hill-side above was almost 
immediately in a blaze. An English officer, who 
arrived upon the scene when the conflagration was at 
its height, described it as the most tremendous spec- 
tacle on which his eyes were ever set. There have been 
grander fleets, and more extensive naval establishments, 
than those by means of which Congress disputed the 
mastery of Lake Champlain ; but none ever perished 
in more picturesque and complete destruction. In the 
official report of the catastrophe General Schuyler was 
informed, frankly and comprehensively, that " not one 
earthly thing was saved." 

Burgoyne's people, meanwhile, were quite as active 
and venturesome on another element ; and their victory 
would have been equally overwhelming by land if the 
wilderness had had a limit like the water. At the 
first gleam of dawn General Fraser was informed that 
Ticonderoga had been abandoned. He at once collected 
a small body of armed men by the process of sweeping 
together his line of pickets ; led them into the fort, and 
planted the British colours upon the rampart ; and then, 
'* leaving orders for the brigade to follow as soon as 
they could accoutre," he hastened across the bridges, 
and started southward on the track of the retiring 
enemy.i A day's forced march under a broiling sun 
brought him to Hubbardtown, where St. Clair had left 
a strong rear-guard. At five o'clock the next morning 
Fraser assailed the Americans, who were very advan- 
tageously posted, and whom he did not out-number. 
There ensued a hot and equal conflict, which was 
Waterloo on an extremely minute scale ; for the com- 
batants amounted to just one per cent of those who 
fought upon that great occasion ; their respective losses 
were exactly in the same proportion ; and the event was 
finally decided by the appearance of a German force on 
the right flank of the enemy. General Riedesel, who 

^ The whole story is vigorously, and most circumstantially, told in 
Burgoyne's despatch to Lord George Germaine. 


had ridden far in advance of his columns, stood by the 
roadside fuming at their tardy arrival, and emitting a 
string of imprecations in High Dutch which were not 
unfamiliar to the ears of English veterans who had 
taken part in Prince Ferdinand's battles. In the course 
of an hour or two he laid hands on as many Bruns- 
wickers and Hessians as made up a couple of companies ; 
and he thereupon hurried them into action, drumming 
and shouting, and singing battle hymns, and letting off 
their muskets as fast as they could load and fire. When 
Fraser heard them in the woods, making noise enough 
for half-a-dozen battalions, he caught the spirit of the 
movement, and gave the word for a charge. The British 
attacked with the bayonet, and the Americans broke 
and fled. A hundred and fifty of our soldiers had been 
killed or wounded, and a score of our officers. Twice 
as many Americans were left on the ground ; and Colonel 
Francis, who had commanded them gallantly, and very 
expertly, was slain. But that was a small part of their 
losses. In the course of three days Burgoyne had cap- 
tured a hundred and eighty of their cannon, all their 
reserve tents, very considerable stores of provisions, 
great herds of cattle, and a large quantity of ammuni- 
tion. St. Clair's miHtiamen deserted him during the 
retreat ; and when, with the rags and tatters of his 
unfortunate garrison, he rejoined General Schuyler at 
Fort Edward, the contagion of egotism and faint-hearted- 
ness did not fail to infect the main army. Several New 
England regiments chose that time, of all others, to 
claim their dismissal, and march off in the direction of 
their respective homes. Between the official capital of 
New York State, and an invading force perfectly equipped 
at all points, and flushed by conquest, there lay a poor 
company of some three thousand men, unprovided 
with artillery, and with no shelter from the weather; 
enfeebled by illness ; depressed by failure ; and aban- 
doned in the hour of peril by those very New Englanders 
who, as politicians, had been the loudest advocates of 
the Revolution, and the most prominent authors of the 


war. That was a gloomy and inglorious week in the 
calendar of the Republic. 

Then came the golden hour of Burgoyne's career ; 
for he now at last had something to write which every 
one was sure to read, and which no one, who feared 
to be called unpatriotic, would venture to criticise un- 
favourably. He set himself down to narrate the events 
of the preceding ten days at such a length that, if printed 
in book-form, they would have filled half again as many 
pages of an octavo volume. The despatch had merits. 
Burgoyne's account of his operations was in all 
respects accurate, and the services of his subordinates 
were acknowledged with the gratitude which became a 
chivalrous soldier ; but, all the same, he was ill advised 
when he gave play to his talent for descriptive narrative. 
If war was made up of nothing except brilHant and 
unbroken successes, the story of it might safely be told, 
even in an official despatch, with entire frankness and 
graphic minuteness of detail. But a campaign seldom 
passes without some reverse of fortune ; and, with such 
a contingency present to his mind, the most eloquent 
general, when writing for the information of the public 
at home, does wisely in restricting himself to conven- 
tional and colourless military phrases. 

For the present, however, Burgoyne's countrymen, 
without misgivings or forebodings, abandoned them- 
selves freely to the feast of rhetoric which he had spread 
before them. The narrative of his operations was printed 
in a London Gazette of imposing volume ; ^ and the 
extracts from his private letters, which were handed 
round in society, deepened the favourable impression 
created by his published despatch. Especial notice was 
taken of the sentence in which the victorious general 
informed a friend, who was likewise an officer of high 
rank, that, to judge from the quality of their strategy, 

^ " I heard to-day at Richmond that Julius Caesar Burgonius's Com- 
mentaries are to be published in an extraordinary Gazette of three-and- 
twenty pages in folio, to-morrow ; — a counterpart to the Iliad in a nut- 
shell ! " Horace Walpole to the Countess of Ossory ; August 24, 1777. 


the rebels had no men of military science among themA 
A contemporary historian relates that '* the joy and 
exultation were extreme " among all politicians who 
insisted upon the unqualified subjugation, and uncon- 
ditional submission, of the colonies. He described how 
" those contemptuous and most degrading charges which 
had been made against Americans of their wanting the 
resolution and abilities of men, even in the defence of 
whatever was dear to them, were now repeated and 
believed ; " and how the supporters of the Ministry, with 
one accord, took pains to diffuse an opinion that the 
war in effect was over.^ The success attending their 
endeavours to set that idea afloat was indicated by a 
proof which, in their generation, admitted of no gain- 
saying ; for there was a sudden, and very perceptible, 
turn in the political betting. Five to one began to be 
laid against the recognition of American Independence, 
which not long before, at any rate in Brooks's Club, 
had been the subject of an even wager.^ The Stocks, 
indeed, refused to rise, for the City was obstinately 
sceptical on the subject of America; but the country 
gentlemen in the House of Commons, — grasping at a 
shadow, and dropping their substance, — were prepared 
to vote whatever money Government might ask, in the 
belief that one final and well-sustained effort would 
crush the revolt, and usher in the halcyon hour when 
they might lighten their own financial burdens by taxing 
the vanquished colonies. 

A still more credulous class of men accepted the 
Ministerial view of the situation with avidity, and 
sincere conviction. Loyalist exiles in England had 
been full of hope ever since it became matter of common 
knowledge that measures were on foot to encircle and 
stifle the rebellion by a threefold movement upon 
Albany. " The Tories here," (so one of them wrote 

1 General Burgoyne's letter to General Hervey of July ii. 

2 " History of Europe " in the Annual Register of 1777 ; chapter 8. 
^London Evening Post; August 14, 1777. ^^^ betting book at 

Brooks's; June 29, 1777. 


from London in April,) *' believe the American game of 
independency is nearly up. Nay, so very sure are 
some, that there is no small talk of going off in 
August." 1 A score of the refugees had engaged berths 
in a packet for New York ; while twelve or fifteen others 
chartered an armed vessel to convey themselves, and a 
large consignment of merchandise, across the ocean, so 
as to be on the spot when the Royal authority was 
re-established, and the American market was once more 
thrown open to English goods. It may well be believed 
that, when August actually arrived, and brought with 
it the news that Ticonderoga had fallen, the delight of 
these poor people exceeded all reasonable bounds. No 
doubts or qualms as to the conclusive nature of the 
British successes existed within the precincts of the 
royal Court. The King ran into his wife's room crying 
out that he had beaten all the Americans ; ^ and he 
forthwith empowered Lord George Germaine to promise 
Burgoyne a Knight Commandership of the Bath, and to 
assure him that more substantial marks of favour were 
soon to follow. Burgoyne, most fortunately for himself, 
had lodged his interests in safe hands when he sailed 
from England. He was represented at home by the 
Earl of Derby, who knew his inmost thoughts, and was 
connected with him by many and close ties.^ Lord 
Derby, in terms of deep respect, and dutiful gratitude 
for the Royal goodness, informed the Secretary of State 
that Burgoyne was known to cherish strong objections 
against the proposed honour " from whim, caprice, or 
some other motive." The nature of that motive has 
been disputed, and cannot now be ascertained ; but 
Lord Derby's prudence was beyond all question. 

1 Samuel Curwen to the Revd. Isaac Smith ; 23 Brompton Row, 
Kensington, April 6, 1777. 

2 The Last Journals of Horace Walpole \ Aug. 22, 1777. 

^ Burgoyne had been the schoolfellow, and life-long friend, of Lord 
Derby's father ; he had married Lord Derby's aunt ; and he now sate in 
Parliament for a Lancashire borough where the Stanley influence was 
very powerful. 


Example had shown that generals in America had 
reason to dread, rather than to welcome, a premature 
reward. Sir William Howe's red ribbon had been sent 
from Windsor in consequence of the victory on Long 
Island; and it reached New York just in time for the 
defeat at Trenton. 




The most sanguine anticipations of a speedy and 
crushing British victory would have been justified in 
the eyes of almost any military man by the outward 
aspect of Schuyler's army. He had been instructed to 
rely upon Massachusetts as his main source of strength ; 
and Massachusetts had failed him at the critical 
moment. One county in that State had sent twelve 
hundred men to the front ; and nine hundred of these 
took their departure, and made their way home, 
spreading panic and suspicion through their native 
villages.^ Of the contingent from another county, 
which had marched into camp five hundred strong, 
only thirty officers and sergeants, and about the same 
number of privates, now remained. Schuyler had 
seventeen or eighteen hundred Continental linesmen ; 
and a thousand New York militiamen, out of twice as 
many, had graciously consented to stay under arms for 
three more weeks in consideration of the fact that their 
own province was at present the seat of war. Cannons 
were lying about in the grass ; but he had no gun- 
carriages whatsoever, and only five rounds of powder 
and ball for each of his muskets. Tents there were 
none, and not enough intrenching tools, and far too few 
camp-kettles to cook the food. Almost everything was 
lacking in Schuyler's army; but the general of that 
army was not wanting to himself. It is difficult to see 
how any man, under that trying ordeal, could have 

1 "The most aggravated circumstance of all is that many soldiers are 
coming home pretending that they were far pursued by the enemy.** 
General Heath to Washington ; Boston, July i6, 1777. 



displayed sounder judgment or more effective industry. 
For the provision of ordnance-stores, and other material 
of war, he was dependent upon the ill-will, the apathy, 
and the financial poverty of the central government ; 
but the supplies of victuals were largely drawn from 
his own neighbourhood, where he was extraordinarily 
beloved ; and where his private credit, unsparingly 
pledged when it was a question of his soldiers having 
sufficient food, commanded much more confidence than 
those oblong slips of Treasury paper which called them- 
selves dollars, but which already had fallen in pur- 
chasing value below the level of five-and-twenty cents. 
Schuyler appealed for assistance, as in duty bound, 
to Congress, to the administrative departments at 
Philadelphia, and to the representative assemblies of 
New England ; and, with more expectation of a satis- 
factory response, he addressed himself to powerful 
servants of the state whose respect he enjoyed, and 
whose patriotism and public spirit were known to him 
from of old. He wrote often, and urgently, to Jonathan 
Trumbull of Connecticut ; to General Heath, then in 
military command of Massachusetts ; and to George 
Clinton, who, in the nick of time, had been elected 
Governor of New York State. And, as his prime 
reliance, he placed the interests of himself and his army, 
frankly and unreservedly, in the hands of George 
Washington, whom, over and over again, he had man- 
fully and loyally supported when Washington himself 
was in the direst straits.^ While awaiting succour 
from without, Schuyler employed his existing resources, 
vigorously and cleverly, on a course of action sug- 
gested to him by that intimate knowledge of the 
locality which he had gained during a busy lifetime. 
He drove off the sheep and cattle, and carted away or 

1 " I have indeed written to Springfield," (so Schuyler told Washing- 
ton,) " for the cannon which were there. But the answer I got was that 
they were all ordered another way. I have also written to Boston, not 
that I expect anything will be sent me, but that T may stand justified ; 
for I have never yet been able to get much uf anything from thence. In 
this situation I can only look up to your Excellency for relief." 


spoiled the standing crops, which lay within reach of the 
enemy's foragers. Retaining in his lines barely enough 
soldiers to serve as scouts and sentries, he converted the 
rest, for the time being, into spade-labourers and wood- 
men. He summoned to his aid the numerous colony 
of excavators, and lumberers, and artisans who were 
permanently engaged in developing, and keeping in 
repair and order, his enormous property, which had 
been regarded as the model estate of all colonial 
America, and which was now the actual scene of 
hostilities. With marvellous celerity, and almost irrep- 
arable completeness of destruction, he broke up 
the roads, and choked the water-ways, along which 
Burgoyne's advance would necessarily be conducted. 
And then, having given to his country everything else 
which he possessed, he renounced, for her sake, his 
cherished popularity, and exposed himself to the 
triumphant and pitiless malice of his political adver- 
saries. Convinced, as he was, that a premature battle 
meant ruin to the American cause, he abandoned Fort 
Edward, which was a fortress only in name, and with- 
drew his army by gradual stages to a carefully selected 
position at Stillwater, on the west bank of the Hudson 
River, about ten miles to the southward of his own 
ancestral country-seat at Saratoga. 

The storm of obloquy and misrepresentation at once 
commenced to rage with unbridled violence. John 
Adams, as acute a man as ever set up for a military 
critic without any aptitude for the trade, had already 
pronounced, when he heard the bad news about 
Ticonderoga, that his countrymen would never success- 
fully defend a post until they had shot a general ; and, 
so soon as Philadelphia learned that the Northern army 
had relinquished Fort Edward to the invaders, and had 
retreated to a point only ten leagues in front of Albany, 
Schuyler's opponents, whether in or out of Congress, 
felt assured that their chance had come for wrecking 
his career, and covering his name with reproach and 
dishonour. There was one man who took a calmer, a 



more favourable, and a wiser view of the strategy 
which noisy and half-informed people declared to have 
been inspired by pusillanimity, and even by treachery. 
Washington was fully persuaded that the British, in 
approaching Albany from the north, had undertaken 
a task beyond their strength. After closely examining 
the reasons given for each successive movement, he 
accepted Schuyler's own account of the local cir- 
cumstances which had governed the course of the 
campaign ; he applauded, and even stimulated, that 
general's distrust of fortified places which could be 
turned or taken ; ^ and he quietly, but very plainly, 
expressed it as his belief that, the deeper Burgoyne 
penetrated into the interior of the States, the harder he 
would find it to return. George Washington did not 
fear committing himself beforehand to a definite view 
of the military probabilities, if his forecast was of a 
nature to put fresh heart into a sorely exercised col- 
league. " Though our affairs," he wrote, '* for some 
days past have worn a dark and gloomy aspect, I look 
forward to a fortunate and happy change. I trust 
General Burgoyne's army will meet sooner or later an 
effectual check, and that the success he has had will 
precipitate his ruin." 

Washington took care to leave nothing undone which 
might contribute to the fulfilment of his own hopeful 
prognostications. He studied the list of Schuyler's 
requirements with an attention which allowed no item 
to escape his notice. Although he himself lived in 
daily expectation of having Sir WiUiam Howe, with 

1 Schuyler told Washington, on the 26th July, that the works at Fort 
Edward were in ruins. " They are so utterly defenceless that I have 
frequently galloped my horse in on one side, and out at the otlicr. But, 
when it was in the best condition possible, with the best troops to 
garrison it, and provided with every necessary, it would not have stood 
two days' siege after proper batteries had been opened." 

On the 22nd of that month Washington had written to Schuyler as 
follows. " It will not be advisable to repose too much confidence in the 
works you are about to erect. I begin to consider lines as a kind of 
trap, and as not answering the valuable purposes expected from them, 
unless they are in passes that cannot be avoided by the enemy." 


five-and-thirty regiments of Royal infantry, upon his 
hands, he supplied those requirements out of his own 
scanty means with a noble and well-judged disinterest- 
edness ; and he provided first what was needed most. 
On the very day that Schuyler's forlorn message 
arrived at the headquarters of the Southern army, ten 
field-guns, equipped and harnessed, were started on their 
way towards Albany; together with all the musket- 
cartridges that were in store at the arsenal, as well as 
sixty barrels of powder, and a weight of lead to corre- 
spond. Tents, indeed, could not be furnished, since 
there were no tents in stock ; but Washington remem- 
bered the camp kettles, and the shovels and pickaxes, 
not one of which, without his express and peremptory 
intervention, would ever have been issued from the 
national magazines for use in the Northern army. He 
detached from his own insufficient force two small 
brigades of veterans ; noticeable among whom were 
Colonel Glover's fishermen from Marblehead, and the 
battalion which Rufus Putnam had trained into a corps 
of rough, but very ready, pioneers and artificers. 
Washington's early experiences of forest warfare had 
lain along the Ohio, and not on the Hudson and the 
Mohawk rivers ; but the primeval wilderness had the 
same features everywhere ; and he knew the advantage 
to a general, during a campaign in the backwoods, of 
having people about him who could build bridges, and 
fabricate breastworks, rapidly and out of rude materials. 
And, while his other consignments were still upon the 
road, he followed them up with the most portable and 
valuable of all military reinforcements in the person of 
an officer who would supplement Schuyler's deficiencies, 
whether of bodily health or martial genius ; and who 
could be trusted to live in reasonable harmony with the 
chief under whom he served, if only that chief would 
consent to allot him a great deal more than his fair 
share of hard fighting. 

Such an officer was now at Washington's disposal. 
On the nineteenth February, 1777, Congress had ap- 

1 2 


pointed five additional Major Generals; and Benedict 
Arnold's name was nowhere among the number. The 
Brigadiers selected for promotion were all his juniors; 
while he himself was left at the head of the list of 
colonels, in the well-known, and rather undignified, 
position of a veteran too respectable to be harshly re- 
moved from the service, but notoriously unequal to the 
emergencies of a command in the field. The blow 
was cruel ; and it was felt by Washington not less keenly, 
and resented more openly, than by Arnold himself. 
The Commander-in-Chief let Congress know that, in his 
opinion, they had put an inexplicable and unpardonable 
slight upon an officer who was second to none in all the 
qualities of a military leader;^ and in a succession of 
letters, marked by intelligent sympathy and delicate 
feeling, he counselled Arnold to refrain from taking 
any hasty and irrevocable decision, and assured him 
that no endeavour on his own part should be wanting to 
correct an act of such flagrant injustice and signal 
impoHcy. Arnold evinced his sense of Washington's 
friendliness, in the manner most acceptable to his corre- 
spondent, by maintaining an attitude of silence and self- 
control. " Every personal injury," (he replied,) "' shall 
be buried in my zeal for the safety and happiness of my 
country, in whose cause I have repeatedly fought and 
bled, and am ready at all times to risk my life." 

These gallant words were soon brought to the proof. 
Towards the end of April Governor Tryon sailed from 
New York with a force of two thousand infantry. He 
landed on the coast of Connecticut, between the two 
model New England villages of Fairfield and Norwalk ; 
both of which, under pressure of time, but not (as the 
future was to show) from any want of inclination, he on 
this occasion left unburned. Like a practical man, he 
set business before pleasure. He marched straight up- 

^ Washington to Richard Henry Lee, in Congress ; Morristown, 
March 17, 1777. "I am anxious," (so Washington wrote,) "to know 
whether General Arnold's non-promotion was owing to accident or 
design ; and the cause of it. Surely a more active, a more spirited, and 
sensible officer fills no department in our army." 


country to Danbury, where he destroyed a large maga- 
zine of provisions and ordnance stores belonging to the 
Revolutionary government ; and it was only after he had 
accomplished the public object of his mission that he 
allowed himself the satisfaction of setting fire to every 
private dwelling-house which had not a Tory owner. 
The little town blazed all through the night, and would 
have served as a beacon to alarm the neighbourhood if 
the whole population of the Eastern townships had not 
been awake already. Five or six hundred minute-men 
were mustered under the orders of two militia generals ; 
and Benedict Arnold, who happened to be at New Haven 
on a visit to his sister, was with them in the character 
of a volunteer. Connecticut lay outside the sphere of 
his professional employment ; but, on an occasion like 
the present, he had never been a stickler about the pre- 
cise nature of his military authority, which always met 
with sufficient recognition in those very perilous places 
where he most cared to exercise it. When Tryon 
started on his return march in the early morning his 
rear-guard was furiously attacked by General David 
Wooster, a citizen warrior near seventy years of age, 
who had often helped King George the Second, and 
King George the Third, to beat the French and Span- 
iards on land and water. Wooster, with his spine 
broken, was soon carried away to die ; ^ and his people 
were a mere handful ; but they could not be shaken off 
until Tryon's main column had been halted and de- 
ployed, and his artillery brought into action. At a 
defile two miles farther on the British found Arnold 
planted across their path. His troops were not enough 
to cover a front of half a furlong ; but he stood up to 
his work as stiffly as if he had at his disposition a couple 
of brigades. The Americans were at last out-flanked, 

1 Congress voted a monument to General Wooster, which was not 
erected until eighty years afterwards. His grave was then opened ; and 
among the mouldering fragments of the old man's uniform, and the 
homely badges of his rank, there was found the heavy regulation bullet 
which had killed him. 


and driven from their position ; and Arnold, who was 
always a laggard when it was a question of moving 
towards the rear, had the exclusive benefit of a volley 
from a whole platoon at the distance of thirty yards. His 
horse fell, riddled with balls ; and he saved his own life, 
not for the first time in the course of it, by his deadly 
coolness with the pistol. 

This desperate and unequal fighting had not been 
wasted ; for the day was far spent, and Tryon had still 
much ground to cover before he could reach his ships. 
The British encamped during the night ; and, when they 
resumed their march at dawn, all Connecticut was in 
arms around them. Arnold's presence was visible and 
dominant at every critical point along their line of re- 
treat ; and, (no small matter to a commanding officer 
with a crippled leg,) the horse which carried him on 
that day was not shot until very near the end of the 
battle. There were sharp encounters whenever the 
Americans attempted to block the road ; but otherwise 
the English general did not retaliate upon his pursuers. 
His soldiers hurried along, galled by musketry, and (as 
the afternoon proceeded) by cannon. They arrived at 
the water's edge exhausted and disheartened, and so 
incapable of any further exertion that they owed their 
preservation from capture to the brilliant valour of the 
Marines who had been ordered ashore from our frigates 
to protect the re-embarkation. Tryon lost a tenth part 
of his men ; but, on the other hand, he had deprived 
the enemy of stores to the value of fifteen or sixteen 
thousand pounds sterling, and had burned a score or 
two of quiet families out of house and home. The affair 
was a desultory and isolated raid, aiming at no solid 
military advantage ; foredoomed to disaster ; and quite 
exceptionally irritating to the population of the locality. 
It was Lexington over again, in every particular, except 
that at Lexington the Royal forces had been commanded 
by a man of honour.^ 

1 Good English officers already discerned the futility and risk of such 
operations as the expedition to Danbury. " We ought to avoid attacking 


When the story of Danbury was made public, Arnold 
received the promotion which had so long been his due ; 
and Congress presented him with a horse " properly 
caparisoned, as a token of his gallant conduct." The 
new Major General, however, declined to be pacified ; 
and he was still bickering with the Board of War, and 
the Committee of Accounts, when Washington, who 
understood him better than he understood himself, con- 
trived that he should be sent North to assist Schuyler in 
making head against Burgoyne's army. Arnold at once 
dropped his grievances, waived all his personal claims, 
and expressed himself ready to take orders not only 
from General Schuyler, but also from General St. Clair, 
who was one of the five officers by whom he had re- 
cently been superseded. He passed a night at Wash- 
ington's headquarters, where the two generals talked 
over the military prospect, shared a modest repast and 
very narrow house-room, and even found time to put in 
an appearance at a neighbouring Lodge in the peaceful 
character of Brother Masons.^ Arnold then repaired 
to his post without delay. Immediately on his arrival 
he had an opportunity of doing the American cause as 
important a service as any which he could have ren- 
dered with his sword ; for he warmly supported Schuy- 
ler's prudent and far-sighted proposal to retire from the 
exposed position of Fort Edward, and take up his 
ground thirty miles farther to the southward at Still- 
any considerable body of them, — suppose two or three hundred, — unless 
we can pursue our advantage, or at least take post ; for, though we may 
carry our point, nevertheless, when we attempt to return to our Quarters, 
we may be assured of their harassing us on our retreat." So Colonel 
Harcourt wrote to his father more than a month before Tryon set out for 

1 Arnold was with Washington on the fifteenth July. On the twentieth 
of that month there is the following entry in Colonel Pickering's journal. 
" Headquarters at Galloway's ; an old log-house. The General lodged 
on a bed, and his family on the floor about him. We had plenty of 
sepawn and milk, and all were contented." Sepawn was porridge made 
of Indian corn. 

The two autographs were entered in the records of the Masonic Lodge. 
Washington's signature may still be read ; but a thick black mark has 
been drawn over the name of Arnold. 


water. The hero of Danbury and of Valcour Island 
had no notion of concealing his opinion on a question 
of practical strategy for fear of being taunted with want 
of spirit by a parcel of civilians at Philadelphia. 

The wisdom of Schuyler's policy in avoiding a battle 
was by this time distressingly evident to yet another 
general whose personal interest in the result of the 
campaign was not inferior to Schuyler's own. The 
most serious obstacles to the re-conquest of America, — 
obstacles which the British people had hitherto very 
dimly apprehended, and of which the British Ministry 
never made any account at all, — consisted in the vast 
distances, and still more in the natural difficulties, of 
that country. A faithful and striking picture of these 
difficulties ib to be found in an article contributed to 
an English Magazine while the fate of Burgoyne's ex- 
pedition was still in suspense. That article contained 
information which, in the shape of a confidential 
report from an officer of the Royal Engineers, ought 
undoubtedly to have been submitted to the Cabinet 
when they were asked to give their sanction to 
the Northern expedition, or, (better yet,) before ever 
they began the war.^ The forest highways, (so this 
writer stated,) very seldom ran straight for many 
yards together, but were continually on the turn 
around innumerable fallen trees, which in time of 
peace were never cleared away for want of hands to 
remove them.^ In time of war, a single regiment of 
American militiamen, — who manipulated their axes 
not less effectively, and much more elegantly, than 
their firelocks, — could within the twenty-four hours 

1 This article, entitled Sojne of the circumstances which inevitably 
retard the Progress of the Northern Army through the uninhabited 
countries of America, may be read in The Gentleman's Magazine for 
October 1777. 

2 The rotting trunks, each of which occasioned a greater or shorter 
diversion of the road, were *' as plenty as lamp-posts upon a highway 
about London, and frequently as thick as the lamps upon Westminster 


render a long stretch of road impracticable even for 
infantry. Every two or three miles there was a bridge 
" twenty, thirty, or forty feet high, and twice or three 
times as long, over a creek, or rather a great gutter 
between two hills." For a retreating army it was an 
easy matter to destroy those bridges ; but every one of 
them would have to be re-built by the invaders at a 
great cost of time and ingenuity. Frequent patches of 
swamp, impassable otherwise for artillery, required to 
be paved with small trees, cut into lengths of ten or 
twelve feet, and laid side by side over a space of many 
yards, or even some furlongs.^ An American campaign, 
(the author remarked,) was well calculated to correct 
the prophecies of chimney-corner strategists ; and an 
officer, returning from such a service, would readily 
admit that he brought back to Europe at least twice 
the stock of patience which he had carried with him 
on his outward voyage. 

Much had been written in England, and with some 
justice, about the expertness and the intrepidity of 
Canadian boatmen. Great things, which were for the 
most part impossibilities, had been expected from them 
by Transport officers, and Commissariat officers, who 
were new to America, and who had still to learn that 
the Northern waters of that Continent did not lend 
themselves readily to internal navigation. The larger 
rivers, frozen late into April, and then swollen into 
furious torrents by the melting snow, provided a very 
swift, and most exciting, form of travel during the 
month or six weeks which elapsed before the end of 
May ; but after that date the droughts of summer soon 
reduced the main current to a narrow and most un- 
certain channel.^ The smaller streams were over- 

^ Between the Oneida lake, and the Seneca River, there were upwards 
of a hundred and thirty such causeways in the space of twelve miles. 

2 During the hot weather, in the principal rivers, a strip of navigable 
water wound through shallows so extensive and treacherous that a prac- 
tised boatman was sometimes a quarter of an hour in wading from his 
vessel to the shore. 


arched with gigantic timber, which grew on their 
banks more luxuriantly than in the drier soil of the 
interior forest ; and those streams could be rendered 
useless for military purposes by a comparatively small 
expenditure of well-placed labour. The Marquis de 
Montcalm, in the last French war, took such effective 
measures for the obstruction of a certain water-way 
that the surface was hidden by trunks and branches 
for twenty-four computed miles ; and Lord Amherst's 
pioneers spent many weeks in laboriously cutting, 
through that tangled wreck of trees, a passage for his 
fleet of boats. 

Amherst had the rare good fortune to serve under 
William Pitt, — a statesman who understood war, who 
never pressed or flurried his generals, and who stinted 
them in time as little as in the other hardly more 
essential requisites for military success. Lord North's 
Cabinet, however, unlike William Pitt's, would seem to 
have derived their notion of the backwoods from maps 
in which New York State, with its fifty thousand square 
miles, showed of a size with Gloucestershire ; where the 
Adirondacks, and the Green Mountains, stood as clear 
from forest as the Malvern Hills; and where the 
Kennebec and the Mohawk flowed, to all appearance, 
through smooth lowlands like the valleys of the Severn 
and the Thames. It was by the light of such maps 
that Burgoyne had been accustomed to explain how he 
would isolate the Kastern colonies from the rest of the 
Confederacy by patrolling the chain of lakes and rivers 
with his gun -boats, and scouring the roads with his 
flying columns. But technical })hrases, which carried 
cheerful conviction across a dinner-table in Mayfair, 
did not sound as if they covered the whole of the 
military situation when repeated in the heart of the 
American jungle. By the time that Burgoyne's second 
despatch came to be written he was forced to admit 
that the toil of the march was great, though supported 
by the troops with the utmost alacrity. They had, (he 
said,) not only to cut away layers of large timber-trees, 


with the branches interlaced, which the enemy had 
felled, "both lengthwise and across the road;" but 
they likewise had above forty bridges to construct, and 
others to repair, — one of which was of logs, over 
a morass two miles in extent.^ The British reached 
Skenesborough, at the head of Lake Champlain, on the 
tenth of July ; and on the thirtieth they transferred 
their camp to Fort Edward. Ably directed by theii* 
military chiefs, and working like men the first edge of 
whose strength and ardour was still unblunted, they 
had advanced exactly twenty miles in the course of 
twenty days. 

At that rate of speed Burgoyne reached Fort 
Edward, and found himself as far removed as ever 
from his real object, which was the American army. 
With sound judgment, — if judgment were of any avail 
in that nightmare of a country, — he had estabhshed his 
base of supply at the south end of Lake George, up to 
which point the whole of his stores could be brought 
by water. But Schuyler had sent a thousand men, axe 
in hand, up each of the roads which led from Fort 
George to Fort Edward ; and though General Philhps, 
by supreme exertions, at length cleared a path for 
wheeled vehicles, the means of transport were far 
below the needs of the expedition. The most indis- 
pensable requisite for any forward movement was the 
construction of two soHd bridges over the two broad 
and deep streams which flowed between the British 
camp and the town of Albany ; and all the heavy 
barges, which were to support the planking of those 
bridges, had to be hauled overland every yard of the 
way between Lake George and the bank of the Hudson 
River. Of the horses which had been ordered by con- 
tract in Canada, two out of every three never reached 
the front ; and Burgoyne, employing the utmost 
industry, had been able to collect only fifty teams of 

^ Lieutenant General Burgoyne to Lord George Germaine ; Head- 
quarters upon Hudson's River, near Fort Edward; July 30, 1777. This 
letter was received at Whitehall on the twenty-fourth of September. 


oxen from the district in which he was now operating. 
His military train, moreover, carried a great deal 
besides the materials of his bridges ; for, as the army- 
advanced, his commissariat supplies had all to be 
carted from the rear. Schuyler had swept the country- 
side so bare of food that the few Tory Loyalists, who 
had not been frightened out of the neighbourhood by 
Burgoyne's Indians, were only preserved from famine 
by Burgoyne's charity.^ 

The Royal troops were reduced to subsist on pork and 
beef which had been salted, and on flour which had been 
ground, in England. Their ration was sometimes defi- 
cient ; and the younger men husbanded it carelessly. A 
private on the march was already laden with a blanket, a 
badly hung knapsack, a canteen for water, a hatchet, his 
share of the tent equipage and the cooking-vessels, his 
side-arms, sixty cartridges containing bullets of a bore 
large enough to break a horse's leg, and a musket twice 
as heavy as the double-barrelled gun with which modern 
country gentlemen go after partridges. And now, in 
addition to this ponderous outfit, the British soldier was 
directed to bring along with him his provisions for four 
days ; which before the end of that period, in a hot July, 
had usually become no very tempting burden. He 
often emptied his haversack on to the roadside in the 
hope of getting something fresher, and more to his 
taste, when he reached the bivouac ; ^ and the dis- 
appointment which there awaited him was sharpened 
by a well-founded belief that the German auxiliaries 
fared better than himself. Riedesel's Brunswickers 
were more knowing purveyors than our own people, 
and less unselfish comrades ; for their foraging parties 
gleaned up many sheep and cattle, and then omitted to 

^ " Among such as sued for protection are many families totally 
destitute of corn ; and it is very embarrassing how to grant their request 
upon this article without great inconvenience, or refuse it without equal 
inhumanity." Burgoyne to Lord George Germaine ; Fort Edward, July 
30, 1777. The letter was private. 

2 The actual words, as frequently overheard on such occasions by 
British officers, are reported in Lieutenant Anburey's 36th letter. 


bring their prizes into the common stock. Burgoyne's 
remonstrances were churlishly received, and stolidly 
disregarded ; but he never appealed in vain to his own 
countrymen on a point of military honour and patriotic 
duty. He frankly took the English officers into his 
confidence with respect to the difficulties of transport, 
and reminded them that gentlemen, who served in 
America during the last French war, had foregone their 
claims to more roomy tents than those in use among 
the rank and file, and had often confined their personal 
baggage to one knapsack for a month together. That 
courteous and friendly hint was taken in a kindred spirit. 
Every British regiment sent the whole of its super- 
fluities, and most of its comforts, back to Ticonderoga ; 
but the Germans indignantly refused to separate them- 
selves from their packages, which they fully intended, 
when once they arrived among the rich towns and 
villages to the Southward, should be largely increased 
both in bulk and value. ^ 

Burgoyne had his troubles with the Brunswickers ; 
but they were by no means the most unmanageable 
people for whose conduct he was so unfortunate as to 
be responsible. During the arduous pursuit of General 
St. Clair, and the severe fighting at Hubbardtown, our 
Indians had remained behind at Ticonderoga in order 
to plunder the American cantonments ; and, now that 
they had at last rejoined the army, their presence was 
more a burden than a blessing. While everyone else 
was on short commons, their gluttony could not be 
satisfied with less than full rations ; and an Indian 
ration was in itself a surfeit for any ordinary 
European. Their peculiar habits were an offence to 
all the senses of every decent civilised man. Officers, 
who took part in Burgoyne's expedition, always 
remembered with disgust the sight and smell of 
a warrior seated in front of a stolen mirror for several 

1 Some important extracts from Burgoyne's correspondence, bearing 
on his relations with General Riedesel, are given in the sixth Chapter of 
de Fonblanque's volume. 


hours together, smearing himself with rancid bear's 
grease, and layer after layer of glaring paints, in 
preparation for a battle from which he was sure to 
run away as soon as the first shot was fired. More 
intolerable still were the hideous yells poured forth 
by the gangs of braves on their return from a suc- 
cessful foray, as they marched through the English 
bivouacs bringing with them many scalps, and very 
few living captives. It was quite useless for Burgoyne 
to invoke the loyalty of the civil population so long as 
all the approaches to his camp were beset by savages 
who could not tell a Tory from a Whig, and who took 
care never to inform themselves about the politics of 
their victim while his hair still remained upon his head. 
A deputation of Royalist partisans adventured them- 
selves across the British lines for the purpose of 
remonstrating with General Fraser on the subject of 
these indiscriminate brutalities; but that officer told 
them plainly that it was impossible to check such 
irregularities in a conquered country. Fraser, indeed, 
alone among his military colleagues, still set a high 
value upon the co-operation of the Indians. When 
he sent off to Canada, under a very feeble escort, a 
numerous detachment of Americans who had been 
taken in battle, he informed the prisoners that, if they 
attempted to escape, the red men would be set upon 
their trail, and they would all be scalped. 

Before many days were over, even Fraser himself 
had had more than enough of the Indians. There 
resided in the vicinity of Fort Edward a certain Mrs. 
Mac Neil, a staunch Tory who was a cousin of his own ; 
and Scotch cousinships count for much. She had with 
her a young friend, Jane Mac Crea, the daughter of a 
clergyman of their own nation, who was a girl of graceful 
form, and attractive by her intelUgent countenance and 
her endearing disposition. Her lover was a fine, dash- 
ing fellow who had brought a company of Loyalist 
sharp-shooters to the assistance of Burgoyne. Early in 
the morning of the twenty-seventh July some of our 


Indian auxiliaries broke into Mrs. Mac Neil's house, 
and dragged off the two ladies with circumstances of 
barbarous violence. Meanwhile another party entered 
the dwelling of a gentleman who, (whether that made 
the case worse or better,) had always been strongly 
opposed to the Revolution, and murdered him, his wife 
and her sister, his three children, and all his negroes. 
Later in the day Mrs. Mac Neil was led into the British 
camp almost naked, in a pitiable condition of exhaus- 
tion and distress, and terribly anxious about the fate 
of her young companion. Her spirit had not been 
broken ; and, when she was brought into the presence 
of her kinsman, she let that eminent officer hear some 
home truths. Not long afterwards the marauders arrived 
with their spoils, which included a mass of glossy hair 
a yard and a quarter long, which Mrs. Mac Neil recog- 
nised as the hair of Jane Mac Crea. Burgoyne sum- 
moned the Indians to a council, and demanded the 
surrender of the poor girl's murderer, with every in- 
tention of sending him immediately to the gallows. 
But the guilty warrior was an important personage, — 
a chief of gigantic stature, known as the Wyandot 
Panther, who was greatly feared and admired by all 
his tribesmen. It was represented to the British general 
that, if his demand was pressed, the red men would go 
off in a body, and return to their villages burning and 
devastating the unprotected country on both sides of 
the Canadian frontier ; and those who knew the Indians 
best were very positive that, before they left the district, 
they would avenge their friend by taking the lives of 
English sentries. With this information before him, 
Burgoyne allowed the delinquent to go unpunished. 
The Wyandot Panther departed in peace, after he had 
secured a purchaser for his trophy ; and the storm 
which threatened to disturb the relations between King 
George and his allies ended, for the present, in nothing 
more serious than a passing cloud. ^ 

^ The fate of Jane Mac Crea soon took shape in a legend which has 
long ere this been disproved and discredited. Her betrothed had not 


Burgoyne was most uneasy. He found it a hard 
matter to provide his troops with their daily bread ; 
and he had as yet done little or nothing towards accumu- 
lating a reserve of provisions which would enable him 
to pursue an aggressive movement upon Stillwater and 
Albany. He was in the humour for a rash, and even a 
desperate, enterprise ; and the tempter was at hand. 
The principal citizen in those parts, after whom Skenes- 
borough was then called, was Philip Skene, an English 
major on half -pay, who held under Royal Patent a large 
tract of land to the South of Lake Champlain. He had 
formerly been known as an officer of remarkable courage; 
and he soon proved that he had lost none of it ; but he 
was one of those fatal counsellors whose flattering tales, 
in the earlier phases of the colonial controversy, had 
enticed the British ministry, through folly and injustice, 
into disgrace and irreparable disaster. Skene was of 
small account in America ; but his silly letters carried 
more weight in Downing Street than all the sober and 
authoritative expostulations which emanated from such 
genuine friends to England as Richard Penn and John 
Dickinson.^ In the July and August of 1777 this gentle- 
man was constantly at Burgoyne's elbow ; and he im- 
parted to that very impressionable general his own ideas 
about the strategy which suited the topography of the 

commissioned a pair of Indians to escort her into the British camp for 
her wedding. There occurred none of that stage business, borrowed from 
the quarrel between the two villains in the " Babes in the W^ood," which 
has found its way into many histories. Lieutenant Jones did not die 
insane, nor did he get himself killed in battle. He bought the poor girl's 
hair, and went away to Canada, where he lived into old age, melancholy 
and taciturn ; though he was always ready to protest against the mass of 
sentimental absurdity which had gathered itself round the dreadful truth. 
He invariably spent the last week of July in solitude and seclusion. 

1 " Colonel Skene, to whom I gave such exalted letters to you, is by 
no Means the very great and consequential Man that he will endeavour 
to make all believe." Letter from Henry Cruger in London to a relative 
at New York ; May 3, 1775. 

In the middle of July, 1777, Skene wrote to Lord Dartmouth very 
positively about the hopeless condition of the rebels in Burgoyne's front. 
He admitted, however, that it was not easy to execute concerted and 
decisive military operations in that *' wooden country." 


country, and his own illusions with reference to the 
political sympathies of its inhabitants. 

Thirty miles to the south east of Fort Edward, at 
the foot of the Green Mountains, lay the village of 
Bennington, where supplies had been collected from 
the New England provinces for the use of Schuyler's 
army. The place contained well-filled granaries, large 
herds of cattle, and wheel-carriages and horses in con- 
siderable number, although not so many as the English 
believed. At that moment in the campaign the stores 
of Bennington would have been a precious and a timely 
prize ; but to send a very small body of troops on a 
raiding expedition across the frontier of the Hampshire 
Grants was like thrusting the bare hand into a bee-hive 
in quest of honey. That, however, was the course 
which Major Skene recommended, and which, after some 
hesitation, Burgoyne adopted. Towards the middle of 
August, 1777, he despatched Colonel Baum in the direc- 
tion of Bennington with a mixed party of small and 
heterogeneous detachments, numbering in all five or 
six hundred men, of whom two thirds may have been 
Germans.^ Burgoyne could spare very few soldiers ; 
but he lavished upon the leader of the expedition, out 
of his abundance, instructions of very liberal scope 
embodied in exceedingly well-turned phrases. Colonel 
Baum was directed " to try the affections of the country, 
and disconcert the councils of the enemy ; " to arrest 
all ofBcers, civil and military, who were acting under 
the orders of Congress; to impose a subsidy on the 
towns, and take hostages for the payment ; and to 
bring back not fewer than one thousand three hundred 
horses, *' tied in strings of ten each, in order that one 

1 Mr. Fortescue, in his History of the British Army, states the com- 
position of the force, as originally ordered by Burgoyne, to have been 
" 150 Brunswick dismounted dragoons, 50 picked British marksmen, 
150 Provincial soldiers, 56 Provincial and Canadian volunteers, and 
80 Indians." Captain Max Von Eekling, in his Account of the German 
Troops in the War of Independence, says that the proportion of Bruns- 
wickers in Baum's column was largely increased before the expedition 
started ; and that was certainly the case. 



man might lead ten horses." The merits of Burgoyne's 
official diction were lost upon Colonel Baum, who did 
not comprehend a word of English ; but Major Skene 
was attached to his command, and served him as an 
adviser and an interpreter. Skene solemnly assured 
the German colonel that, in the districts which he was 
preparing to invade, the friends of the British cause 
were as five to one, and only awaited the appearance 
of a British force in order to display their true colours. 
The inhabitants of those districts had in their midst, 
at that very moment, a trusted leader who was more 
intimately informed about their political sentiments 
than Major Skene, and who could make himself under- 
stood by them a great deal better than Colonel Baum. 
John Stark, — for he was now again a private citizen, 
ungraced by any military title, — had acquired extra- 
ordinary distinction in the most famous conflicts of 
the Revolution. Congress, enamoured of mediocrities, 
ignored his claims for promotion ; and Stark had resigned 
his commission in the Continental army, and was now 
living peacefully at his farm in New Hampshire. The 
authorities of that State received an earnest request for 
help from the Committee of Safety for the Hampshire 
Grants ; and the members of the Provincial Assembly, 
who had just concluded their Session, and departed for 
their homes, were brought back to their duties by a 
pressing summons. Their Speaker, John Langdon of 
Portsmouth, addressed them in words which it is well 
to quote in full as a specimen of the oratory employed, 
during those sternly practical times, in the unsophis- 
ticated regions situated to the North of the Merrimac 
River. " I have," he said, " three thousand dollars in 
hard money. I will pledge my plate for three thousand 
more. I have seventy hogsheads of Tobago rum, which 
shall be sold for the most it will bring. These are at 
the service of the State. If we succeed in defending 
our homes, I may be remunerated ; if we do not, the 
property will be of no value to me. Our old friend 
Stark, who so nobly sustained the honour of our State 


at Bunker's Hill, may be safely entrusted with the con- 
duct of the enterprise, and we will check the progress 
of Burgoyne." 

And so the little community, instead of relying 
on the charitable exertions of the central government, 
proceeded to declare a sort of war within a war against 
General Burgoyne and his army. Dependent for their 
safety upon their own energy, and their own exiguous 
resources, the people of New Hampshire were firmly 
resolved to meet the peril under a chief of their own 
choosing. A day of fasting and prayer was duly 
proclaimed ; the local Tories were disarmed ; and Gen- 
eral Stark, (for so his neighbours, during the next 
fortnight, insisted on calling him,) was invested with the 
supreme command. He resumed the old uniform 
which he had laid aside, and bade farewell to his 
charming wife, whom he was very soon to render 
famous among women. The militiamen of the State 
eagerly flocked to the banner of a warrior whose name 
was a familiar word in all their households ; and there 
were soon enough of them to form two respectable 
brigades of infantry. Stark was ordered by General 
Schuyler to join the camp at Stillwater, and bring all 
his troops with him ; but he flatly refused to march. 
His contumacious bearing aroused the indignation of 
Congress ; and that body publicly characterised the 
independent course taken by the Assembly of New 
Hampshire as ''destructive of military subordination, 
and highly prejudicial to the common cause." News 
travelled slowly ; and, several days before the Resolu- 
tion embodying that scathing rebuke was entered on 
the Journals of the House, events had occurred which 
made its authors, until their dying hour, sincerely wish 
that they had left the matter alone. 

Any mischief which might have resulted from the 
ill-informed policy of the statesmen at Philadelphia 
had been corrected by the good sense of their servant 
on the spot. General Lincoln, who commanded for 
Congress in the Hampshire Grants, while in his 



official capacity he condemned Stark's refractory con- 
duct, had no intention of leaving him unsupported 
whenever the decisive moment came. He quietly 
placed at the disposal of the valiant malcontent all 
that was left of Seth Warner's battalion of the Green 
Mountain Boys, who in the recent action during the 
retreat from Ticonderoga had behaved with intrepidity, 
and suffered very heavily, for the common cause ; and 
who were certain to acquit themselves not less manfully 
in defence of their own firesides. In that regiment, as 
even Major Skene would have admitted, the proportion 
of enemies to American Independence must have been 
considerably less than five to one. The men of the 
Hampshire Grants were a rude and stubborn clan, 
tenacious of their rights, and capable of making 
themselves excessively disagreeable to anyone who 
interfered with their liberty or their property. Twelve 
years before this date they had expelled across the 
border all those unlucky New York agriculturists to 
whom the lands around Bennington had been granted 
by Royal Patent; and they had still less inclination 
to welcome Canadian savages, and German fusiliers, 
as visitors in their townships and occupants of their 
parlours. Towards the end of the Revolutionary war 
a French nobleman in General Rochambeau's army, 
amicably exchanging confidences with an officer in 
one of our Highland regiments, confessed himself at 
a loss to understand the motive which inspired the 
Americans in battle. "I," he said, "fight for my 
master. You for yours. Who is it that these people 
are fighting for } " ^ The Green Mountain Boys, and 
the New Hampshire minute-men, could doubtless have 
given reasons for the political faith that was in them ; 
but for the present they were satisfied with the know- 
ledge that they were fighting to preserve their children 
from the tomahawk, and their roof-trees from the torch. 
Colonel Baum's perplexities began from the instant 

1 This anecdote was told by Nicolas Chamfort, a brilliant Academician, 
and a friend of Mirabeau. 


when he crossed the frontier of the Hampshire Grants. 
His main strength consisted in a regiment of Brunswick 
Dragoons, — as workmanHke a cavalry as might be 
found in Europe, but singularly unsuited for a forced 
march on foot through a half-settled district in the 
Northern provinces of America. *' They were equipped 
with long, heavy riding boots, with big spurs, thick 
leathern breeches, heavy gauntlets, a hat with a thick 
feather ; at their side a strong sabretasch, and a short, 
heavy carbine, while a big pig-tail was an important 
part of this extraordinary costume."^ These unwieldy 
troopers, according to the original scheme of the 
expedition, were to be mounted on chargers captured 
at Bennington, or picked up in the course of their 
journey ; but, while Baum's dragoons were labouring 
along bad roads in their absurd panoply, his Indian 
allies, accoutred for secret and rapid movement, 
ransacked the pastures far and wide, destroying the 
horses, or driving them away to be sold at some future 
time for their own profit. Baum complained bitterly 
that the red men could not be controlled. They plun- 
dered everything and everybody ; they slaughtered 
wholesale the herds of fine cattle which grazed on the 
lower slopes of the Green Mountains ; and they brought 
nothing into camp except the cow-bells, of which, after 
their fashion, they affected to be collectors. The com- 
position of the invading force was gravely defective, 
and its numbers entirely insufficient. A Tory guide, 
who had been attached to the column, gave it as his 
opinion, when he was out of Major Skene's hearing, 
that the country could not be safely entered by fewer 
than three thousand men. No Loyalist recruits 
presented themselves for enrolment ; and it was 
rumoured, and very soon was ascertained, that the 
rebels were in great strength at Bennington. The 
German advance came to a stand-still six or seven 
miles to the north of that village. Baum planted 

1 Chapter 7 of Captain Von Eekling's History. 


himself on some very defensible ground, overlooking 
a small river ; surrounded his encampment with well- 
planned and substantial earthworks ; and sent back an 
express to Fort Edward with an urgent petition for 
assistance. Burgoyne despatched to the aid of the 
threatened commander a force somewhat larger than 
that which he had with him already. It was under the 
orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann, who passed, 
with good reason, for the best among General Riedesel's 

The American skirmishers had begun to make their 
presence felt at Baum's outposts. Stark was in a hurry 
to fight, whether with, or without, his own reserves ; 
and he had still less intention of waiting for the appear- 
ance of the enemy's reinforcements. He made an 
appointment with Seth Warner's regiment, which was 
cantoned in distant quarters, to meet him at the scene 
of action ; and he moved forward with his New Hamp- 
shiremen into the immediate vicinity of the German 
intrenchments. During the night of the fifteenth 
August, 1777, he was joined by a detachment of militia 
from the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts, in- 
cluding the male parishioners of Pittsfield, with the 
parson at their head. The reverend gentleman told 
the American commander that his congregation had 
often been summoned to war, and had invariably been 
disappointed of a fight ; to which Stark rejoined that 
he could not commence business in the dark, but that, 
if the Lord allowed another day to break, they should 
every one of them have as much fighting as their hearts 
could desire. 

The sun rose at his usual hour, and shone with the 
extreme of glare and fervour; and, all the morning 
through, small knots of farmers, — some in blue frocks, 
and more of them in their shirt sleeves, — were quietly 
stealing around towards the rear of the hostile position. 
Two years before this date the German officers, when 
they had their first sight of Washington's infantry, pro- 
nounced that the rebels looked like a mob which had 


been hastily gathered together ; ^ but these groups of 
half-dressed rustics did not appear to possess even the 
cohesion of a mob. Major Skene conjectured that they 
were local Tories, watching an opportunity to enter the 
Royal lines for the purpose of taking the Oath of 
Allegiance ; and Colonel Baum, in any case, attached 
very little importance to their proceedings.^ By three 
in the afternoon the Brunswicker was completely sur- 
rounded. The Americans advanced upon his pickets, 
drove them into the redoubt, and ensconced themselves 
behind such cover as they could procure within shooting 
distance of the garrison. The Indians made their exit 
at once, and rushed off in a body, howling and jingling 
their cow-bells ; but otherwise the whole of both the 
little armJes became immediately engaged in a fierce 
and incessant battle. " It lasted," said Stark, " two 
hours, and was the hottest I ever saw. It was like one 
continued clap of thunder." And yet Stark had heard 
the sustained fusillade at Bunker's Hill, and the fiendish 
din in the streets at Trenton. 

Both parties raised a tremendous noise ; but the 
execution actually done, on the one side and on the other, 
was very unequal. Two out of every five Brunswickers 
were hit by American bullets ; and some of the New 
Hampshire militia crept within ten or twelve yards of 
the battery, and shot down the Hanau artillerymen 
at their guns. The dragoons, as far as courage and 
devotion would serve, maintained the high reputation 
of their corps ; but they showed no great skill with 
their rather indifferent fire-arms. Victory for the 
assailants was only a question of hours. Colonel Brey- 
mann, however, was near at hand ; and Stark had no 
time to spare. He seized the moment with a practised 
glance, and led forward his soldiers, of whom not a 
few were his fellow-townsmen and his family friends, 
after making a very brief and stirring appeal to their 

^ Chapter i of Captain Von Eekling's History* 
2 Von Eekling ; Chapter 7. 


neighbourly sympathies. ** Come on, my lads ! " he 
cried. "We must get them beaten; or Molly Stark 
will be a widow to-night." Sword in hand, and on 
foot, (for his horse had been killed,) and begrimed by 
the powder-smoke almost beyond recognition, he looked 
anything rather than a lady's man. It was not a bayonet 
charge, for his people had no bayonets ; but they came 
on behind him with their fowling-pieces clubbed, striking 
downwards like the Swiss halberdiers in their battles 
with Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Lord Sandwich 
might have altered the tone of his speaking in the 
House of Peers if he could have seen that flood of 
Yankee cowards streaming across the breastworks. 
Colonel Baum fell mortally wounded ; and, according 
to the most authentic German testimony, only thirty 
dragoons, out of nearly four hundred, ever made their 
way back to Burgoyne's camp.^ Major Skene, doing 
something to redeem his ignorance and folly by con- 
spicuous activity in combat, had already lost four 
horses ; and he now got safe away from a swarm of 
marksmen, who were bent on taking him alive, on a 
fifth steed which died beneath him as soon as he was 
outside the range of fire. 

A relieving force was within sound of the cannon, 
and even of the musketry, for some while before the 
redoubt was stormed. " That misfortune," (wrote Bur- 
goyne,) "would certainly have been avoided if Mr. 
Breymann could have marched at the rate of two miles 
an hour, any given twelve hours out of the two-and- 
thirty." It must, however, be borne in mind that the 
officer, whose conduct was thus impugned, never 
showed himself backward in battle. He did not live 
to return to Europe, and tell his own tale ; his progress 
across country on this occasion was far from abnormally 
slow according to the standard observed by the British 
army during the Saratoga campaign ; and, (for that was 

^ A letter from Canada, quoted in a London newspaper of November 
1777, says that the Germans "stood like a stone wall until they were cut 
to pieces." 


the real point in question,) Burgoyne should have sent 
Colonel Breymann and his troops with Colonel Baum, 
and not after him. Whether or not Breymann had 
idled on the way, he undoubtedly exhibited no slackness 
in presence of the enemy. He gave the American com- 
mander no time to re-assemble those civilian soldiers 
who had dispersed to revel in the joy and excitement 
of their victory. Six hundred light infantry and grena- 
diers, the choicest of Riedesel's Brunswickers, swept 
forward in order of battle, driving before them the 
groups of militiamen whom Stark and his aides-de- 
camp had with difficulty recalled from plundering the 
German baggage-carts, and picking up brass-plated 
sword-belts as heirlooms for their families. The final 
event of the day was still in suspense, and the balance 
had begun to incline against the Americans, when the 
long-expected battalion of Green Mountain Boys came 
marching to the rescue. Their ranks had been cruelly 
thinned at Hubbardtown ; but the survivors were ready 
for another encounter on such conditions as satisfied 
their exaggerated self-respect, and their quaint pro- 
vincialism. Seth Warner, — who, like most good 
American officers, was too much inclined to seek a 
fight for its own sake, when his strict duty should have 
kept him out of it, — had taken part in the assault on 
the intrenchment, and was missing for some time after 
the melee ceased. His soldiers obstinately refused to 
charge until they received the word of command from 
their own colonel ; but Warner at length was found, and 
then he and his people went into the battle together.^ 

1 It was long before the men of the Hampshire Grants lost their 
character for indomitable, and rather troublesome, independence. In the 
summer of 1781 Washington requested their old general to call them into 
the field in order to meet a temporary emergency. " Your power," (the 
Commander-in-Chief wrote,) " must be unlimited amongst those people 
at whose head you have formerly fought and conquered with so much 
reputation and glory." " I shall," replied Stark, "hold a treaty with the 
Green Mountain Boys ; but, not having seen those turbulent sons of 
freedom for several years, I am at a loss to determine my reception." 
They gave him, however, a most cordial greeting, and turned out on 
horseback five hundred strong. 


The New Hampshire miUtia only wanted a lead. They 
crowded up to the right and left of Warner's regiment ; 
a crashing fire broke out along both the opposing 
fronts ; and Stark once again was in his element. The 
German advance was checked. Before many minutes 
had elapsed it became converted into a retrograde move- 
ment ; and there were no troops in the world who could 
retreat with impunity in face of American sharp-shoot- 
ers. That busy and audacious individuality, which was 
the strength and the weakness of the Revolutionary 
soldier, was never so formidable as when he was in 
pursuit of a partly-beaten adversary. The New Eng- 
landers plied their legs briskly, and aimed with the 
deliberation of men who knew the cost in cents of every 
round that they fired. When the darkness settled down, 
they discharged their pieces at pistol-distance from the 
bushes on either side of the road, with some danger to 
each other, but with little or no reply from the enemy ; 
for the retiring column had filled up with wounded, and 
the cooler and best disciplined ])rivates were told off to 
help along their disabled comrades. Colonel Ikeymann 
hardly got away by favour of the night, after losing 
both his guns, and a full third of his rank and file. 
" Another hour of daylight," said Stark, " and I should 
have captured the whole body." Under those circum- 
stances Colonel Ethan Allen would have been seriously 
displeased with Providence because the sun had not 
stood still for him, as for Joshua ; but Stark was far 
from ill-satisfied with a success so perfectly timed 
to advance the welfare of his cause, and so cheaply 
purchased. The Americans acknowledged a hundred 
casualties as the price of their double triumph. They 
claimed, probably with truth, seven hundred prisoners, 
including the injured men who remained in their hands; 
and they certainly had taken the whole artillery which 
the Germans brought into the field, together with a 
thousand stand of arms, and swords more than enough 
to equip all the cavalry that could be raised within the 
boundaries of New Hampshire, and of Massachusetts 


as well. There were dry eyes, and not a little secret or 
open pride and elation, wherever the story of the affair 
was read in English ; for it was an Englishman's victory. 
A force of drilled and pipe-clayed foreigners, intruding 
where they were not wanted, had been put to the rout 
by English farmers, lighting in civilian costume, and 
with native courage, to defend the inviolability of their 
English homes. ^ 

Meanwhile a series of moves, with an important bear- 
ing on the fate of the game, was being played in the 
opposite corner of the strategic chess-board. Far to 
the westward, on the spot where the town of Rome now 
stands, and at a point where the old military route from 
Montreal and Oswego entered the upper portion of the 
Mohawk Valley, Fort Stanwix was held for the Revo- 
lution by a strong garrison, under the command of an 
excellent officer. During the month of July, 1777, the 
environs of the place had been infested by those Indian 
warriors who formed the advance guard of Colonel St. 
Leger's army. The red men prowled through the 
thickets, killing and scalping, in the interest of the 
counter-revolution, soldiers who had wandered beyond 
the fortifications to shoot wood-pigeons, and little girls 
from the neighbouring farmhouses who were out of 
doors in search of blackberries. At the beginning of 
August, Colonel St. Leger himself arrived before the 
walls with a few companies of British Regulars, some 
Hessians and Canadians, and two battalions of infantry 
bearing the title of the Royal Greens. They had been 
raised in the Northern townships of New York State by 
Sir John Johnson, a Tory baronet ; whose father. Sir 
William, had competed on equal terms with no less 

1 Lossing gives a full account of Bennington ; illustrated, as always, 
by intelligent study of the locality, by authentic oral traditions, and by 
interviews with old people who remembered the war. 

Stark was nearly fifty in 1777. He died at the age of ninety-twO; 
and, during the last years of his life, he enjoyed a pension from Congress 
of sixty dollars a month. The real heroes of the Revolution were not 
burdensome to their country. 


• powerful a territorial magnate than Philip Schuyler for 
social and political leadership among the white popula- 
tion of that feudal region. Sir William had no rival in 
his influence over the Indian tribes ; and his knowledge 
of the Indian character was enlarged, and kept up to 
date, by a course of life which created less scandal in 
his day than in ours. His mansion, — fortified, and 
crowded with guests and inmates, like a mediaeval castle, 
— always contained some handsome squaws ; and he 
had children in incredible number, and of various shades 
of colour. He only just lived into, and perhaps died 
of, the Revolution. With many faults, he was a much 
finer fellow than his son and successor ; and his last 
days were saddened and distracted by a mental conflict 
between sincere attachment to the liberties of his Colony, 
and gratitude towards a Sovereign who had rewarded 
his frequent and valuable services with princely muniti- 
cence. Sir John Johnson, unlike his father, was not a 
patriot, but a partisan of a singularly noxious type. He 
stands condemned by all honest Americans, Tories and 
Whigs alike, as an instigator and accomplice in the 
Wyoming foray, —;- the most horrible outrage on the 
helpless and the innocent which, in the long history of 
our race, was ever perpetrated in the name of i.oyalty. 
The troops inside Fort Stanwix were enough to man 
the works ; and their spirit was high, and their temper 
hopeful. Some of their officers had procured a sketch 
of the national flag recently adopted by the Continental 
Congress, and had manufactured a banner, resplendent 
with stars and stripes, out of their best coloured cloaks 
and their finest linen. ^ They had powder and lead in 
plenty ; but their stock of provisions was far from 
inexhaustible, and their only communication with the 
outer world lay along a hundred miles of forest-track, 

^ A Committee was appointed by Congress " to design a suitable flag 
for the nation." It consisted apparently of Robert Morris and George 
Washington. They took into their counsels, with the best results, Mrs. 
Betty Ross, a leading milliner of Philadelphia, reputed to be "the finest 
needle-worker in America." Their design was adopted by an Act of Con- 
gress of June 14, 1777. 


intersected by narrow defiles, and deep and obscure 
ravines. A first attempt to relieve the garrison was 
made by local effort. The militia of Tryon County 
mustered at the instance of General Herkimer, one of 
those tough and stout-hearted patriarchs who were so 
much to the front during the earlier struggles of the 
Revolution. Herkimer penetrated, without opposition, 
as far as Oriskany, a distance of only six miles from 
Fort Stanwix ; but there he fell into an ambuscade 
planned and planted with consummate art by the famous 
Indian chief who is known to history under his English 
appellation of Joseph Brant. The Americans were shot 
down by scores. Many of them fled, and were slain as 
they ran. But the braver men stood their ground ; the 
Seneca warriors, on their part, were no skulkers ; and 
the contest was prolonged, knife to knife and muzzle to 
muzzle, with deadly fury and pertinacity. Oriskany, for 
the strength of the forces engaged, proved to be the 
bloodiest conflict of the entire war. Herkimer's leg had 
been shattered, and his horse killed ; but the old man 
bade them place his saddle against the trunk of a 
spreading beech, and there he sate, erect in the middle 
of the tumult, — with death upon him, though perhaps 
he did not know it, — as cool and observant as if he 
were superintending the operations of a deer-hunt. He 
noticed that, whenever a militia-man discharged his piece, 
an Indian would rush in with his hatchet before there 
was time to reload. Herkimer accordingly stationed 
his soldiers behind their trees in pairs, so that, when one 
had fired, the other had a bullet ready for an assailant ; 
and the great number of savages killed and wounded, as 
a consequence of this simple device, eventually con- 
tributed more than any other single cause to decide the 
campaign on the Mohawk River. While the contest in 
the ravine was still raging, the garrison of Fort Stanwix 
made a vigorous sally, beat up Sir John Johnson's 
quarters, secured twenty waggon-loads of spoil, sent 
the Royal Greens decamping in confusion, and captured 
five of the flags with which that corps of sinister and 


inglorious memory was superabundantly provided. If 
those standards had remained eleven more months in 
the custody of the regiment, they would have been 
inscribed with the immortal name of Wyoming Valley. 
Both sides claimed to have been victors in this confused 
and dubious fighting ; but the true character of a battle 
is determined by the practical and visible result; and 
Herkimer's militia had been so frightfully mauled that 
they did not think it safe to remain within many miles 
of St. Leger's army.^ 

Unless more effectual help came from some other 
quarter, Fort Stanwix was doomed to fall ; and Philip 
Schuyler had not blinded himself to the inevitable con- 
sequences of that catastrophe. The terms of capitu- 
lation which Colonel St. Leger, in all good faith, was 
prepared to grant, might be generous and humane, and 
embodied in articles drawn up with minute precision ; 
but the surrender of the place would, none the less, most 
probably be followed by a wholesale massacre of the 
garrison. The ghastly tragedy of Fort William Henry, 
in the last French war, — that indelible stain on the 
Marquis de Montcalm's fine reputation, — showed that 
there were certain contingencies in which the best- 
intentioned European commander might be powerless to 
save the lives of adversaries who had committed them- 
selves to his honour ; and a still more recent deed of 
treachery had only too clearly indicated that the most 
vindictive and ungovernable of all Indians belonged to 
that very tribe which now was beleaguering Fort Stan- 
wix.^ When the American stronghold had succumbed, 

1 The Public Papers of George Clinton contain a report of the battle 
at Oriskany written from the Mohawk Valley. " All accounts," (so the 
letter runs,) " agree that a great Number of the enemy is killed. The 
Flower of our Militia are either killed or wounded, except 150, who stood 
the Field, and forced the enemy to retreat. The wounded are brought 
off by these brave men. The dead they left on the Field for want of 
a proper support. We will not take upon us to tell of the behaviour of 
the rear. So far as we know they took to flight, the first firing." 

2 Only fifteen months back, these same Seneca Indians had toma- 
hawked and scalped a number of wounded American prisoners in violation 
of a compact of surrender. 


and its defenders had been exterminated, the intoxication 
of success, and the hope of booty, would draw forth 
fresh hordes of marauders from all the villages of the 
Six Nations ; and the mass of exulting savages would 
pour down the Mohawk Valley, leaving desolation in 
their rear, and carrying fire and death into the fertile 
and thickly peopled home-district which surrounded 
the town of Albany. Schuyler assembled a council of 
war, and advocated immediate and efficacious action 
for the relief of the imperilled fortress. But the 
officers whom he addressed were politicians before they 
were patriots or miUtary men ; and his proposal was 
scouted and out-voted, not so much from disapproval 
of the scheme as from dislike of its author. Stung by 
an unfair and ill-natured remark, which was meant to be 
overheard, Schuyler crushed the stem of his clay pipe 
into fragments between his teeth ; ceased his gloomy, 
pre-occupied walk up and down the chamber ; and faced 
the group of disloyal subordinates with resentful dig- 
nity. " Gentlemen," he said, *' I shall take the respon- 
sibility upon myself. Fort Stanwix and the Mohawk 
Valley shall be saved. Where is the Brigadier who 
will command the rehef?" That appeal was directed 
to others rather than to Benedict Arnold, for he was 
a Major General, and not a Brigadier ; but, when work 
required to be done, he never stood upon his rank. 
He had been sent north, (he quietly said,) in order 
to make himself useful ; and he offered Schuyler his 
services, which were gratefully accepted. Next morn- 
ing the drums beat through the camp for volunteers ; 
and, by noon, eight hundred men had agreed to follow 
wherever Arnold chose to lead them. A week's march 
brought him to a point less than thirty miles from 
Fort Stanwix. The militia of the valley, — keen for 
another chance at the invader, and confident that no 
Tory partisan, whether red or white, could lay an 
ambuscade which would catch General Arnold, — had 
rallied round him in great force ; and Colonel Ganse- 
voort, who had conducted the defence of the fort with 


vigilance and resolution, was gratified by receiving ai\ 
assurance that the siege would be raised long before 
he had served out his last biscuit.^ 

Although Arnold might be a fire-eater when no 
alternative diet could be had, he was far too good a 
soldier to entertain any prejudice against a bloodless 
victory. A Tory spy, who had been detected and 
arrested within the American Unes, consented to save 
his neck by undertaking a mission which was only less 
dangerous than being hanged outright. The man's 
brother was detained as a hostage ; while he himself, 
carefully primed and tutored, and with several bullet- 
holes shot through his coat, ran into the Indian camp 
outside Fort Stanwix with a story that General Arnold 
was close at his heels. When asked whether the enemy 
were few or many, he pointed to the forest-leaves over- 
head with an eloquent gesture. The Seneca warriors 
listened to his tale with ready belief, and profound 
emotion. They had marched out from their lodges in 
quest of plunder, and not of glory ; the slaughter of 
their foremost tribesmen at Oriskany had depressed 
and disenchanted them; and they now were impatient 
to be gone. They would not so much as stay to 
make themselves drunk, in spite of Colonel St. Leger's 
pressing invitation. They rushed away in their usual 
clamorous disorder ; and the panic spread to the Royal 
Greens, who were very poor hands at fighting with 
grown men, and not in the least inclined for an armed 
collision with Benedict Arnold. The two battalions 
broke their ranks and made off into the woods, shedding 
their knapsacks, and flinging down their muskets, 
— an act of improvidence which they soon found cruel 
reason to repent. The rest of the besiegers had no 
choice except to follow ; and St. Leger started for 
Oswego without a moment's delay, leaving behind his 
stores, his tents, and the whole of his artillery. The 
humihations and distresses of that retreat are a stand- 
ing lesson on the real value of barbarian auxiliaries. 

^ Arnold to Gansevoort ; August 22, 1777. 


The red men lost all deference for their European 
employers; and, as savages will, they passed from 
familiarity to mischief and impertinence, and thence, 
by quick stages, to insolence, violence, and outrage. 
Whenever the Royal Greens threw themselves down to 
repose, they were hunted out of their bivouacs by an 
irruption of whooping Indians, and compelled to re- 
sume their exhausting journey. At length the fugi- 
tives reached the shores of Lake Ontario ; but they 
were not permitted to embark in peace. Their boats 
were seized and towed away, with the reserve pro- 
visions on board ; and the fiercer warriors made a 
deliberate onslaught upon the unarmed and defenceless 
Loyalists. Many were murdered and scalped ; and 
even those whose lives were spared were in some cases 
stripped of all their clothing. Colonel St. Leger de- 
clared, in an official despatch, that, after fortune began 
to turn against him, his Indian allies were more for- 
midable than his American enemy.^ The remnant of 
the expedition straggled back to Canada in piteous 
case ; and before the end of August it became evident 
that one, at least, of Lord George Germaine's three 
enveloping columns would never appear at the trysting- 
place in front of Albany. 

1 St. Leger to Burgoyne \ August 27, 1777. 




The left and right wings of the Canadian Army had 
now been successively defeated, and completely swept 
off the board ; and the fate of the invasion, from this 
time forward, depended exclusively upon the central 
column which Burgoyne led in person. He and Schuy- 
ler still faced each other in the same quarters, with the 
same interval of space between them ; but the three 
weeks which had elapsed since the British reached Fort 
Edward had wrought a marvellous change in the rela- 
tive strength, numerical and moral, of the opposing 
forces. Philip Schuyler played an honourable part in 
the vigorous policy which contributed to the ameliora- 
tion of the American chances ; but the principal credit 
was due to George Washington, who had taken the 
strategy of the campaign firmly and promptly in hand. 
He condemned the proposal " to unite all the militia, 
and Continental troops, in one body, and make an op- 
position wholly in front ; " and he explained with force 
and lucidity the importance of acting on the flank and 
rear of an enemy who had thrust himself into such an 
adventurous and isolated position as General Burgoyne 
at present occupied.^ Putting his theoretical advice into 
immediate practice, he sent General Lincoln to the 
Hampshire Grants with directions to fall upon the in- 
vaders from the Eastern quarter ; to attack their con- 
voys ; and, (if practicable,) altogether to intercept their 
communications with Canada. 

It was not Washington's habit to promulgate orders 
without supplying the means to carry those orders into 

^ Washington to Governor Clinton ; i6 August, 1 777. 



execution. He himself had work before him demand- 
ing at least half again as large an army as Congress 
had placed at his disposal ; and he was not justified in 
sending more than a few of his own regiments to the 
assistance of General Schuyler. Those, however, which 
he had given were of his very best; and he supple- 
mented that sacrifice by a liberal exertion of the influ- 
ence which he possessed over the affection and obedience 
of his compatriots. He foresaw that the contest to the 
north of Albany must be short and sharp, and that 
every right arm, which could be spared from the scythe 
and the sickle during the height of harvest, would be 
needed for the defence of the Republic. In a docu- 
ment, the issue of which marks a turning point in the 
Revolutionary War, George Washington informed New 
England that he relied upon her citizen-soldiers for sup- 
port in that time of trial. *' General Arnold, who is so 
well known to you all," (those were the concluding words 
of a concise and impressive exhortation,) ** goes up at 
my request to take the command of the miUtia in par- 
ticular, and I have no doubt but you will, under his 
conduct and direction, repel an enemy from your bor- 
ders, who, not content with hiring mercenaries to lay 
waste your country, have now brought savages, with the 
avowed and expressed intention of adding murder to 

Although this celebrated epistle was ostensibly ad- 
dressed only to Brigadiers of Militia in the Western 
parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, it was read 
with enthusiastic approval by the whole population 
of those two States. General Heath, from his head- 
quarters at Boston, had already taken steps for sending 
back to their regiments in irons the recreant soldiers 
who had deserted Schuyler ; ^ but, after the publica- 
tion of Washington's letter, there was no longer any 
call for compulsory measures. The people of Massa- 
chusetts had been flattered by the appointment to high 
command of General Lincoln, who was universally 

1 William Heath to George Washington; Boston, July 16, 1777. 



popular in his native province ; and they were fully 
determined that the story of Jane MacCrea should not 
be repeated in their own villages. They arrived at the 
very sound conclusion that, in order to protect their 
families from the Wyandot Panther and his brother 
warriors, the shooting must be done, not from the 
windows of farmhouses in the interior townships of 
their State, but in line of battle outside the borders of 
New England. Before the middle of August a sixth 
part of the militia of several counties marched off to 
reinforce the Northern army.^ The pewter of the 
Massachusetts side-boards, — whether dishes, plates, or 
spoons, — was melted down into ball, and packed off for 
the use of the troops on the Hudson River; and the 
officials of Pittsfield, most of whose able-bodied fellow- 
townsmen had already started for the front in company 
with their bellicose parson, despatched to camp their 
last hundred-weight of gunpowder, and did not leave 
themselves enough ** to fire an alarm " in case their 
neighbourhood was threatened by a hostile incursion.^ 

When such was the temper of Massachusetts, — 
which hitherto had been backward, and which lay 
outside the direct line of Burgoyne's projected advance, 
— it may well be believed that apathy did not prevail 
in the province where the war was raging. The 
Council of Safety for New York State placed their sons 
and their treasure unreservedly in the hands of the 
stout soldier whom they had recently elected as their 
Governor. General George Clinton had already taken 
their consent for granted. Fifteen hundred militiamen 
from the nearest counties were on their road to Albany. 
A requisition had been made for a force of five hundred 
infantry to protect Schuyler's rear; and eight hundred 
were at once levied and despatched. Clinton told his 
Brigadiers of militia that every man who could bear 

1 William Heath to John Nixon ; Headquarters, Boston, Aug. 16, 

^Colonel William Williams to Ezekiel Cheever ; Pittsfield, Aug. 17, 


arms must on this occasion be brought into the field, 
and no person exempted whose services were wanted. 
"For which," he wrote, "you are not to wait for any 
further and more particular order." ^ 

Very generous help came from a more distant region, 
where patriotic ardour and wrath had for some months 
past been at fever-heat. The fiery cross had been sent 
far and wide through Connecticut ; but it was not 
kindled by American hands. That conflagration of 
private dwellings which took place in the town of 
Danbury excited, and may almost be said to have mad- 
dened, the whole population of the province. 

" We thought to fire but farm-steads. We have lit 
A flame less transient in the hearts of men."" 

So the agents who carried out Governor Tryon's vin- 
dictive behests might with good reason have boasted ; 
for they proved themselves the most effective recruiting- 
officers in the service of Congress. Three thousand 
citizens of the outraged State had already marched to 
swell the Army of Reserve which was stationed under 
General Putnam at Peekskill in the central Highlands ; 
and a battalion of infantry was told off to reinforce the 
garrison of Providence, in order that the enlightened 
and prosperous little capital of Rhode Island might be 
safe from the destruction which overtook so many 
other sea-side towns and villages. Considerable num- 
bers of the Connecticut militia had repaired to the aid 
of Colonel Stark at Bennington ; and some among them 
arrived in time for the battle. ^ And yet, after listening 
favourably to requests for support from so many quar- 
ters, Jonathan Trumbull was not deaf to the cry of 
distress which reached him from beyond the Hudson 
River. The old Puritan gentleman assured General 
Schuyler that he should not be forsaken in his day of 

1 George Clinton to General Schuyler, and to Brigadier General Ten 
Broeck; both of August 2nd, 1777. 

2 Jonathan Trumbull to Horatio Gates ; Hartford, 2 1st of August, 



peril ; and he carried with him the public opinion of the 
province which he administered. The Committeemen 
of the County of Albany had put forth an importunate, 
but not undignified, invocation to the sympathies of 
Connecticut. They recalled the circumstance that, 
when New England was in danger, the State of New 
York had come forward spontaneously to the rescue. 
** Our country," they wrote, " is now invaded ; but where 
are our Eastern friends ? What have we done to forfeit 
their esteem } " When that letter was received at 
Litchfield, — the nearest large town in Connecticut to 
the seat of war, — the local Committee was called 
together, and an answer transmitted by return of post. 
There was no time to correct the spelling, and possibly 
no sense of any need that such correction was required ; 
but the rarest Uterary skill could not have added force 
or clearness to the unhesitating and unconditional 
pledge, which the reply contained, that, come what 
might, the States of New York and Connecticut should 
stand or fall together.^ Those were not empty words. 
General Schuyler had asked Governor Trumbull for a 
thousand troops. The response came in the shape of 
two hundred cavalry, and two strong, well-officered 
regiments of musketeers ; and, before many weeks were 
out, the Connecticut militia had done their duty bravely 
in that furious and equal battle of the nineteenth of 
September which tested the relative fighting quality of 
Englishmen and Americans as it never had been tested 
before, and as, by the mercy of God, it will never in 
the future be tested again. 

1 The answer of Litchfield to the circular from Albany was signed at 
six P.M. on the 4th August, 1777. "Yours of the First Instant," (so 
it commenced,) " respecting the alarming Situation of our northern 
affairs never reached us before this moment. Surely, Gentlemen, we 
shall never be backward in affording every Possible aid in our power for 
the Relief of the County of Albany. We are not so narrow and Contracted 
as not to extend every assistance as well to the Inhabatents of a sister 
state as to those of our own ; nor do we imagine that we our selfs can 
long be safe whilst Desolation and Conquest over spread your State. In 
short our Feelings are such that we would run every Hazzard, and risque 
every danger, for you that we should for ourselves." 


The importance which Washington attached to the 
campaign against Burgoyne may be estimated by the 
fact that he deprived himself, for General Schuyler's 
benefit, of a small body of troops who, since fire-arms 
were invented, never perhaps had their equals, man for 
man, unless it were the Ninety Fifth Regiment of Lord 
Wellington's Peninsular army. The American Com- 
mander-in-Chief informed the Governor of New York 
State that he was forwarding, as fast as possible. 
Colonel Morgan's corps of five hundred riflemen. " I 
expect," (he said,) ** the most eminent services from 
them ; and I shall be mistaken if their presence does 
not go far towards producing a general desertion among 
the savages. I should think it well, even before their 
arrival, to begin to circulate these ideas, with proper 
embellishments, throughout the country and in the 
army, and to take pains to communicate them to the 
enemy ; " and Washington, — a great master of artifice, 
in its proper place, — added that it would not be amiss 
to magnify their numbers.^ Their value in war it was 
impossible to exaggerate. History knows them as 
Morgan's Virginians ; but fully two-thirds of them were 
from the Western frontier of Pennsylvania, and two- 
thirds of those were Scotch-Irish, who traced back 
their descent to Ulster. The rest were German settlers 
of the hardier sort, grateful to the democratic govern- 
ment which had afforded them an asylum from religious 
persecution, and from the liability to be sold as military 
slaves for the personal profit of an impecunious Prince 
Bishop or Grand Elector.^ At a period when the 
European private was hampered for travel and conflict 
by a burden of complicated accoutrements which to 

modern notions is hardly credible, and altogether 


^ General Washington to Governor Clinton ; i6th August, 1777. 

2 Mr. Kephart relates that when Morgan was asked which race, of 
those composing the American army, were the best soldiers, he replied : 
" As for the fighting part of the matter, they are pretty much alike. They 
fight as much as they find necessary, and no more. But, Sir, for the 
grand essential give me the Dutchman. He starves well." 


ridiculous, the American rifleman went about his 
business unencumbered, and in rational attire. Every 
article, (we are told,) in his scanty outfit was cut down 
to the last practicable ounce, save only the long barrel 
of his rifle.^ He wore the hunting-shirt and, in winter, 
embroidered buckskin leggings in a single piece ; but 
during the heats of summer the men for the most part 
adopted the Indian breech-clout, the most elementary 
garment consistent with the demands of propriety that 
has been in use since the Fall of Man.^ In the warfare 
of the forest these backwoodsmen moved among the 
litter of dry leaves, and brittle twigs, shod with the 
silent moccasin ; and on the march they picked their 
way securely over slippery logs, and along dizzy 
mountain-tracks, in that most supple and durable of 
foot-gear. Their commissariat was limited to a wallet- 
ful of jerked venison and powdered Indian corn ; and 
their commander steadfastly refused all offers of 
wheeled transport as incompatible with the efficiency 
of a genuine light infantry. Thus equipped and pro- 
visioned they had been known to cover five hundred 
and fifty miles in twenty-two days, and even six 
hundred miles within the three weeks. Most of their 
officers carried rifles ; and the privates underwent a 
searching test in practical shooting before they were 
admitted into the ranks. No one was accounted a 
marksman who could not hit a very small object, with 
absolute certainty, at the range of sixty yards ; and 
English prisoners saw with astonishment Virginian 
riflemen holding a piece of board at arm's length, or 

^ Kephart's Birth of the American Army. 

2 Morgan himself wore the breech-clout during Benedict Arnold's 
fearful midwinter march through the Maine wilderness to Quebec. When 
George Washington was serving against the French, in 1758, he held a 
strong opinion on this subject. " If I were left," he said, " to pursue my 
own inclinations, I would not only order the men to adopt the Indian 
dress, but cause the officers to do it also, and be the first to set the 
example myself." In the full trappings of the costume he would have 
made a most majestic Sachem. 


even between their thighs, as a target for their com- 

Schuyler had by this time recovered, — or, to speak 
more accurately, had acquired, — the confidence of his 
soldiers. The military situation was fast becoming 
little short of excellent. General Lincoln, with two 
thousand infantry, watched his opportunity to pounce 
upon Ticonderoga ; smaller bands of well-armed par- 
tisans already made themselves busy and troublesome 
at this point, or that, of Burgoyne's communica- 
tions ; and Stark, who now at last had been made a 
Major General, wrote that he was coming into camp 
with the heroes of Bennington. A few days more, and 
Arnold would be back from the Mohawk, bringing his 
eight hundred volunteers, intact and jubilant, as well 
as a large contingent of militia from Tryon County 
whose services were no longer required for the defence 
of their homes. Whenever the shock of battle came 
Schuyler would be able to put in line ten thousand 
men, many of whom had recently fought and conquered ; 
while the rest were stirred to emulation by the two 
notable victories which had been gained, (as his friends 
and admirers might reasonably claim,) under his 
auspices. A marked change had taken place in the 
feeling entertained by the New England troops towards 
a general who had learned to treat them with the con- 
sideration and the civility which they regarded as their 
due, and who fed them always well, and sometimes at 
his own cost. Philip Schuyler had retrieved his repu- 
tation in the eyes of every fair and unprejudiced man ; 
but unfortunately such men were not a majority in 

1 Lieutenant Anburey's 68th letter, "from Jones's Plantation, near 
Charlottesville in Virginia ; " Aug. 4, 1779. His evidence on this point is 
borne out by many witnesses of similar feats. On one such occasion the 
men proposed to shoot apples off each other's heads ; but the spectators 
would not permit it. 

A year from this time Lafayette, at the head of a detached force 
which included some of Morgan's people, gained a success over the 
Hessians. " I ought to tell you," he wrote to Washington, " that the 
riflemen ran the whole day in front of my horse without eating or 


Congress. The improved condition of the Northern 
army sorely disturbed the minds of his poHtical adver- 
saries, who were in a hurry to ruin him before he had 
the opportunity of winning a victory which would 
establish him permanently and inexpugnably in the 
gratitude of his countrymen. An apt weapon for their 
purpose lay within easy reach ; for General Gates now 
almost lived in the lobbies of the House. His two 
fixed ideas were his own re-instatement in command, 
and Schuyler's downfall ; and he was encircled by 
flatterers and dependents who did not allow either his 
ambition, or his resentment, to slumber. His principal 
staff-officer was Colonel Wilkinson, a youth of extrava- 
gant pretensions and very poor qualities, — the fitting 
jackal for such a lion. He fetched and carried for 
Gates while that general's fortunes were in the ascen- 
dant, and betrayed him as soon as ever those fortunes 
showed the first signs of waning. Like master, like 
man ; and the moral and intellectual relation of James 
Wilkinson to Alexander Hamilton was much the same 
as that of Horatio Gates to George Washington. 

When General Schuyler, in the early June of 1777, 
was restored to the Northern army, Wilkinson en- 
couraged his own chief to view the action of Congress 
as a personal outrage on his dignity and his deserts. 
**They have injured themselves;" (he wrote;) "they 
have insulted you ; and by so doing they have been 
guilty of the foulest ingratitude." It was no hard matter 
even for a foohsh aide-de-camp to push Gates across the 
narrow confines of his self-control. He hurried away 
to Philadelphia, and, on what was Httle better than 
a false pretence, he obtained leave to address Congress. 
His speech was entirely concerned with personal topics, 
and unbecoming to the last degree. After a while the 
New York members moved that the General should be 
ordered to withdraw. A debate ensued, and speedily 
degenerated into an unseemly tumult. Gates remained 
standing on the floor, and took his part among the 
noisiest; but at last, with much difficulty, he was got 


outside the doors. Such an exhibition would have 
been fatal to the military career of any ordinary man ; 
but the New England delegates forgave anything, and 
everything, to one whom they regarded as a favourite 
son. His friends continued to work on his behalf 
indefatigably, and in the end successfully. Schuyler 
was deprived of his command ; and, on the nineteenth 
of August, Gates arrived at Albany with a commis- 
sion to supersede him. 

To his great surprise, he found himself very far 
from universally welcome. Arnold and Lincoln had 
come north, at Washington's earnest request, for the 
express purpose of strengthening Schuyler's hands ; and 
they were taken aback by being called upon, at a 
moment's notice, and for no intelligible public object, 
to transfer their loyalty to a man whom they neither 
liked nor trusted. Gates was still less acceptable to 
the private soldiers ; for they knew him only as an 
absentee general who, all through the previous winter, 
had displayed the most heartless indifference to the 
sufferings of his famished and death-stricken army. 
Nothing except the unsparing exertion of John Stark's 
personal influence kept the brigades which had fought 
at Bennington from marching straight home to New 
Hampshire. Schuyler himself received his successor 
in a friendly manner, and with proffers of counsel 
and support which were churlishly rejected. It has 
been well said that the supreme of good taste rarely 
had more perfect illustration than in Philip Schuyler's 
conduct at this trying moment, and throughout the 
many years of life which still remained to him. 
''Whether the Resolution of Congress," (so he wrote 
to George Washington,) "at this critical juncture was 
a wise one, time must determine. I shall go on doing 
my duty, and endeavouring to deserve your esteem." 
That pledge was nobly kept. Schuyler's modest self- 
effacement under the infliction of a cruel wrong, and 
his continued devotion to the national cause when the 
triumph of that cause could no longer bring glory or 


profit to himself, are an indisputable title to the respect 
of posterity. 

Meanwhile the personal relations between the British 
general and his subordinates were in honourable 
contrast to the jealousies which overset Schuyler. 
Fraser, and Phillips, and Hamilton were heartily loyal 
to Burgoyne. They attributed to his skill in leadership 
those successes which had marked the opening of the 
campaign ; and they did not hold him responsible for 
the manifold difficulties and dangers which now encom- 
passed the army. No one aspired to displace him in 
his command ; and, indeed, the situation was such that 
the most ambitious and self-reliant of military men 
would have been disinclined to envy him. For by this 
time Burgoyne was painfully aware that the Ministry at 
home, deluded by their own obstinate preconceptions, 
and misled by erroneous information, had sent him, 
very ill-provided, on an all but hopeless mission. 
Those resources of local Toryism, which occupied so 
large a space in letters addressed to Cabinet Ministers 
from their correspondents in America, proved to be 
scanty and unreliable within the boundaries of New 
York State; and on the east of the Hudson River they 
were altogether non-existent. The country, indeed, 
had risen ; but not for the King. Burgoyne very soon 
found occasion to tell Lord George Germahie that there 
was daily reason to doubt the sincerity and the resolu- 
tion of professing Loyalists. *' I have," he said, " about 
four hundred, (but not half of them armed,) who may 
be depended upon. The rest are trimmers merely 
actuated by interest. The great bulk of the country 
is undoubtedly with the Congress, in principle and in 
zeal ; and their measures are executed with a secrecy 
and despatch that are not to be equalled. The Hamp- 
shire Grants in particular, a country unpeopled and 
almost unknown in the last war, now abounds in the 
most active and most rebellious race of the Continent, 


and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left." ^ For 
the space of thirty leagues along the flank of Bur- 
goyne's advance the land was inhabited by that martial 
population from which the Green Mountain Boys had 
been recruited ; and five or six thousand royal infantry, 
stationed in rear of his marching army, would have been 
none too many to keep him in touch with Canada. But 
the troops whom Burgoyne could spare for the pro- 
tection of his communications were so few that he 
might as well have spared none at all. His small and 
isolated garrisons seldom ventured to stir outside their 
fortifications, and did not even feel very safe within 
them. He was soon entirely cut off from England. 
The last despatches which he thought it safe to trans- 
mit northwards left his headquarters at Fort Edward 
in the first week of September ; and the last which 
came to hand in Downing Street were dated the 
twentieth August.^ 

Burgoyne's fighting strength had been very seriously 
drained by losses in battle, and by the necessity of 
detaching troops enough to make at least an appear- 
ance of guarding his communications. He had now 
with him seven hundred Provincials, who were good 
for very little ; seventeen hundred Germans ; some 
twenty score artillery men ; and only three thousand 
effective British infantry. In numbers they were a 
forlorn hope rather than an invading host ; but their 
spirit was such that the honour of our country would, 
in the worst event, be safe in their keeping. Their 
discipline and valour left nothing to be desired ; but 
certain incidents in the recent action at Hubbardtown 
aroused anxiety in the minds of those who had closely 
and intelligently watched the character of the fighting. 

^ Burgoyne to Lord George Germaine ; Aug. 20, 1777. 

'■^ Burgoyne, gentleman that he was, had resolved that at the very 
earliest opportunity General Riedesel should see something of the wife who 
had come all the way from Brunswick to be with hirn, and he despatched 
an officer to escort Madame Riedesel to the camp. According to the 
lady's account she reached Fort P>iward on the i8th August, and a few 
days after her arrival news came that the army was cut off from Canada. 


The British officers who had been shot were ominously 
many in proportion to our loss of rank and file. The 
American rifle-balls, as was only too evident, did not 
fly at random ; while, except in the picked companies of 
Light Infantry, the majority of our soldiers were very 
far short of taking rank as marksmen. It was not 
their own fault. The experience of two contested 
campaigns ought to have brought home to every 
colonel, who had a soul above that of a drill-sergeant, 
the vast difference between the conditions of American 
and European warfare ; and the long leisure of winter- 
quarters should have been devoted by our company 
officers to instructing the private in the familiar and 
efficient use of his firelock. Too much was said at 
our mess-tables about the superiority of our own people 
when it came to a push of bayonet. The just reputa- 
tion of that weapon, at the muzzle of an English 
musket, would have been maintained by Burgoyne's 
regiments against any infantry that ventured to meet 
them in line or column ; but it was quite another matter 
where the arena of conflict was obstructed, at frequent 
intervals, by a labyrinth of fallen trunks, and entangled 
branches, through which Morgan's Scouts, and Stark's 
lumbermen from the White Mountains of New Hamp- 
shire, could travel three yards for every two that were 
accomplished by their adversaries.^ Such a considera- 
tion, however, troubled very few officers, and none of 
the common men ; and the idea of a forward movement 
was all the more popular because it was confidently 
anticipated that, as soon as Burgoyne attacked the 
rebels in front, Sir William Howe would assail and 
overwhelm them in the rear. 

^ Lieutenant Anburey, from observations made at the battle of Hub- 
bardtown, came to the conclusion that our manual exercise was " but an 
ornament," and that the only object of real importance was to teach the 
soldier to load coolly, and aim steadily. "The confusion," (he wrote,) 
" of a man's ideas during the time of action, brave as he may be, is 
undoubtedly great. Several of the men, upon examining their muskets, 
after all was over, found five or six cartridges which they were positive 
to having discharged." 


That belief was of faith, and not of knowledge. On 
the thirtieth July, under private seal to Lord George 
Germaine, Burgoyne made a statement of the utmost 
gravity. *' I have spared," he wrote, "no pains to open 
a correspondence with Sir William Howe. I have 
employed the most enterprising characters, and offered 
very promising rewards ; but of ten messengers sent 
at different times, and by different routes, not one is 
returned to me, and I am in total ignorance of the situ- 
ation or intentions of that General." The most that 
Burgoyne had been able to ascertain was that two of 
his own couriers had been hanged ; and he conjectured 
that the same fate had overtaken all the emissaries who 
were bringing him letters from the Commander-in-Chief 
of our southern army. If he waited for news from 
Sir William Howe, he might wait till doomsday. To 
remain where he was, meant starvation. A retreat 
towards Canada would be inglorious, most certainly 
perilous, and perhaps impracticable. Safety, honour, 
and plenty lay in front, if they lay anywhere; and, 
from the general in command to the smallest drummer- 
boy, the one and sole desire of the whole British army 
was to keep advancing until they ran up against the 

Burgoyne only stayed until he had amassed pro- 
visions enough to serve him as far as Albany ; and on 
the thirteenth September he crossed the Hudson River 
on a solid bridge of boats. Our army lay that evening 
hard by the village of Saratoga, some ten miles to the 
eastward of the famous modern watering-place which 
goes by the name of Saratoga Springs.^ The view from 
camp reminded our officers of the fairest, and most 
visibly prosperous, scenes in their own country ; and 
some of them felt a movement of generous compassion 
for the unhappy people who had been scared, perhaps 

1 Readers will do well to consult the large-scale, partially coloured, 
map of Saratoga and Bemis's Heights at the end of this chapter. It 
has been carefully prepared, and will, (it is hoped,) render the last stage 
of the campaign completely intelligible. 


for ever, from their beautiful home. Immediately to 
the south meandered a rivulet broken into artificial 
cascades, and trained around tiny wooded islands ; in 
obedience to that theory of the picturesque which was 
fashionable during the third quarter of the Eighteenth 
Century. On the opposite bank the Schuyler mansion 
stood at the head of a lawn inclining gently downwards 
to the stream. Beds of fruit-trees and vegetables, 
bordered by great masses of bright flowers, had been 
arranged in the English taste by gardeners imported 
from Europe ; and the house itself, — two-storied, and 
of spacious dimensions, — showed *' a row of imposing 
pillars extending its entire length from ground to roof." 
The architecture resembled that of Washington's Vir- 
ginian abode ; and the domestic life, and rural indus- 
tries, of Philip Schuyler's establishment were organised 
on the same lines as at Mount Vernon, but on a far 
larger scale. A regular service of sloops, laden with 
produce, had been used to ply to and fro between 
Schuylerville and the Southern markets ; the plough- 
men, the millers, the foresters, and the artisans in the 
General's employment were counted by hundreds ; and 
his home-farm was as large as the entire estate of a 
rich English squire. His celebrated cornfields, glowing 
with ripened grain, extended for three continuous miles 
along the alluvial flats of the Hudson River. Most of 
the crop was still standing, a legitimate prize of war ; 
and within the next twenty-four hours the wheat had 
been cut for the use of our regimental bakers, and the 
maize as forage for our horses.^ Through this smiling 
region Burgoyne moved in the direction of Albany at 
the rate of one mile a day ; for the provident diligence 

1 Madame Schuyler had paid a flying visit to her country-house in 
the hope of rescuing the choicest pieces in her fine collection of furniture. 
Before returning to Albany, in the spirit of a matron of ancient Rome, 
she set fire to the corn with her own hand. Her negro attendant was 
paralysed by his distress at the notion of so much good hominy being 
wasted ; and the lady's unassisted efforts at destruction, though they 
have been commemorated by painters and engravers as a notable example 
of patriotism, produced very limited results. 


of his American adversary had spoiled the roads, and 
laid every bridge in ruins. Parallel to the line of march, 
a fleet of nearly two hundred barges dropped down the 
Hudson, carrying the baggage, the ordnance-stores, and 
a month's supply of food. The money value of their 
cargo amounted to a king's ransom ; for, (according to 
an elaborate calculation which found its way into London 
newspapers,) every pound of salt meat on board that 
flotilla had already cost British taxpayers the sum of 
thirty shillings. 

Burgoyne moved slowly ; but he had no great dis- 
tance to traverse, inasmuch as the enemy had come 
halfway to meet him. Straight across his path, two 
leagues to the south of Saratoga, and nearly as far to 
the north of Stillwater, rose an abrupt table-land with 
a front of three quarters of a mile, separated from the 
Hudson River by a strip of low-lying pasture not five 
hundred yards across. This very defensible ridge, 
known as Bemis's Heights, had been selected by Bene- 
dict Arnold for the site of an intrenchment. Thaddeus 
Kosciusko — an exile from Poland for a love-story, and 
not for politics — had placed his rare gifts at the service 
of a less ill-starred Revolution than that with which 
his name is romantically and pathetically associated. 
Throwing into the duties of a military engineer his fiery 
energy, and something of his national tendency towards 
the grandiose, he had crowned Bemis's Heights with a 
stronghold which resembled a citadel rather than a 
temporary field-work. The events that ensued present 
a striking illustration of the fatal attraction which the 
apparent security of a fortress has so often exercised 
upon the mind of a timid and incompetent general. 
Gates had many more troops than Burgoyne, and his 
parapets and ditches were impregnable as against direct 
assault. He had regiments enough, over and above 
the garrison of his solid earthworks, to prolong his line 
of battle so far to the westward that the British would 
be unable to turn the American left, or even to save 
themselves from being out-flanked and surrounded. 



But such a conception was altogether beyond the moral 
and intellectual faculties of this miserable self-seeker ; 
and he disposed his army in such a fashion that, if he 
had been abandoned to himself, he could not have 
escaped defeat and disgrace, and very probably would 
have been overtaken by a crushing disaster. His plan 
of action, so far as it was permitted to develop itself, 
consisted in cooping up all his brigades either inside 
his breastworks, or on the narrow flat between the hill 
and the river. There, in the insensate belief that his 
adversaries would run their heads, wantonly and obsti- 
nately, against his impenetrable bulwarks, he awaited 
the approach of a hostile force admirably trained in 
manoeuvres, and conducted by a thorough soldier who 
had not in his whole nature a single particle of stupidity. 
Burgoyne, who was well-read in military history, 
must have been reminded of the Duke of Marlborough's 
great opportunity at Blenheim, where the French com- 
mander had crowded a score of battalions into a barri- 
caded village on his extreme flank, with their backs to 
a deep river. But now Marshal Tallard was outdone 
by General Gates, who had concentrated behind forti- 
fications, in one corner of his position, not the fourth 
part, but the whole, of his army ; and who did not 
think it necessary to have any left wing, or any centre, 
at all. Although fully aware that he was greatly out- 
numbered, Burgoyne nevertheless descried the possi- 
bility of a very brilliant success ; and he adopted the 
proper measures for obtaining it. His left wing, includ- 
ing the German contingent, and all the heavy artillery, 
was entrusted to General Phillips, who would know 
when to hold his hand, and how and where to strike. 
On the right wing General Fraser was to march with the 
Grenadiers and Light Infantry ; while Burgoyne, at the 
head of four slender English battalions, and as many 
field-pieces, placed himself in the centre, where the 
fighting promised to be hottest. The scheme of battle 
had been maturely considered and concerted between 
the leaders of the three columns. Phillips undertook 


to keep Gates in play. In the meantime Burgoyne 
and Fraser would occupy the high ground immedi- 
ately to west of that intrenched enclosure in which 
the Americans were penned, enfilade their lines with 
cannon, assail them with the bayonet in flank and rear, 
and push their ill-commanded and disheartened army 
into and across the Hudson River. Victory could not 
fail to produce immense captures of men and material, 
as well as a greater reward yet ; for the road would be 
open to Albany.^ 

Those were Burgoyne's hopes, and, (with such a 
sorry tactician in face of him,) they may even be called 
his reasonable expectations ; but Gates was fated to be 
saved, in spite of himself, from the worst consequences 
of his own fatuity. All through the morning of the 
nineteenth September the glitter of steel weapons, and 
the passage of scarlet uniforms across vistas in the 
forest, indicated to American scouts that something 
important was afoot within the British lines ; and very 
early in the afternoon three loud explosions, at strictly 
measured intervals, were recognised in both camps as a 
signal for the onset. Gates issued no orders, and evinced 
no disposition to operate outside his ramparts ; but 
General Arnold, a very formidable petitioner, " begged 
and entreated " to be allowed to assume the offensive 
with at least a portion of his own Division. ^ He gave 
his superior officer no peace until he had extorted a 
sulky and grudging permission to march against the 
advancing enemy with Morgan's riflemen, and a scanty 
detachment of Massachusetts infantry. Arnold looked 
the soldier, from head to heel, as he urged his charger 
down the western slope of Bemis's Heights. He was of 
dark complexion, with black hair and light eyes, of 
athletic build and middling stature. " There wasn't 

^ Gates had a bridge over the Hudson ; but, if the Americans were 
beaten, their retreat would have to be effected under the fire of General 
Phillips's battering guns, with Burgoyne's infantry closing in upon them 
from behind. 

2 Letter of Colonel Varick from camp ; September 22, 1777. 



any waste timber in him. He was our fighting general. 
It was * Come on, boys ! ' It wasn't, *Go, boys ! ' He 
didn't care for nothing. He'd ride right in." That was 
a description of Benedict Arnold, given many years 
afterwards by one of those New Englanders who on 
this occasion followed him into action. It would have 
been well for him if, at sun-down on that autumn 
evening, he had been laid, — dead, safe, and honoured, 
— in a warrior's grave. 

The country into which Arnold led his people was 
singularly adapted for assisting an audacious general to 
make a good fight against superior numbers ; and he 
was so weak-handed as to need all advantages that the 
ground could give him. He was among a wilderness 
of trees and undergrowth, deeply scored by ravines, 
and interspersed here and there with open patches of 
grass which the farmers in those parts denominated 
"clever meadows." Everything was in favour of the 
belligerent who was most at home in the woods ; and 
the Americans, without hesitation, — and, in the first 
stage of the conflict, with an excess of temerity, — flung 
themselves against the right wing of the Royal army. 
The Canadian and Indian skirmishers, who covered 
General Eraser's front, were driven in, and required 
very little driving ; but so headlong was Morgan's 
charge that his men got out of hand, and were scattered 
far and wide through the thicket. Some of them were 
cut off and captured ; and, when our picked companies 
of Grenadiers and Light Infantry joined in the fray, the 
British musketry became too sustained and well-directed 
for the Americans to face. It is impossible, after the 
lapse of a century and a quarter, to ascertain the exact 
particulars of a complicated struggle where the com- 
batants who were engaged could seldom see ten yards 
in front of them ; but it is certain that, in this quarter 
of the field, Arnold could make no progress, and was 
hard put to it in order to hold his own. 

The next phase of the affair, however, was definite 
enough ; and the clearest statement of it is by an EngHsh 


historian who then served as a non-commissioned officer 
in Burgoyne's army. The Americans, (so ex-Sergeant 
Lamb wrote,) found themselves unable to penetrate 
at the point where they began the attack ; and they 
accordingly ** countermarched, and directed- their prin- 
cipal effort against the centre." ^ That section of the 
Royal army was posted in some cultivated enclosures 
surrounding a small dwelling-house called Freeman's 
Farm. It. was a clearing in the forest, of oblong shape, 
three hundred yards in extent from east to west, 
sloping gently southwards, and skirted everywhere by 
dense and lofty timber. Here General Hamilton, 
under Burgoyne's own eye, had stationed his guns, and 
drawn up the four battahons which composed his 
brigade. The Twentieth, the Twenty-first, and the 
Sixty-second were ranked in front ; and the Ninth was 
in support. Arnold had meanwhile been joined by 
some other portions of his own command, — New 
Hampshire men. New Yorkers, and a strong and very 
eager regiment from Connecticut ; and Colonel Morgan, 
who at one time found himself almost alone in the 
woods with something Hke despair at his heart, lustily 
sounded his ''turkey call," and once more collected the 
most of his rifle-men around him.'-^ 

There, at three in the afternoon, commenced the 
real battle ; and a stiff bout it was. Senior officers, 
who had witnessed the hardest fighting that the Seven 
Years' War had to show, declared that they never 
experienced so long and hot a fire. Burgoyne earned 
admiration by his serene courage, and his cool and 
business-like attention to the military necessities of 
the moment amidst a whirlpool of peril and confusion. 
The opposing parties surged backwards and forwards 
across the narrow space between them ; and the attack 

1 An original and authentic Journal of Occurrences during the late 
American War ; by R. Lamb, late Sergeant in the Royal Welsh 
Fusiliers. Dublin; 1809. 

'^ Morgan habitually employed, in place of a bugle, the bird-call by 
which Western hunters lured the wild turkeys within rifle-shot. 


and defence were sometimes intermingled for many 
minutes together. A couple of hundred Connecticut 
militiamen, in a hurry to settle accounts for the burn- 
ing of Danbury, advanced so deep into the British 
position that half of them were killed or taken. Some 
noted American marksmen perched themselves among 
the upper branches of high trees, and used their rifles 
with terrible accuracy. Of twenty British officers 
struck by bullets at Freeman's Farm, ten were shot 
dead. Next morning three subalterns of the Twentieth 
Regiment, none of whom had reached the age of 
seventeen, were interred in the same grave. Those 
of our battalions which stood in the first line lost 
three hundred and fifty out of a total strength of 
eight hundred. By the end of the fourth hour not 
seventy privates remained unhurt in the ranks of the 
Sixty-second. Thirty-six of our forty-eight artillery- 
men were slain or disabled, and their battery was 
several times over-run by a swarm of American 
infantry.^ Victory was for the general who could most 
promptly bring up the largest reserves ; but the rein- 
forcements that Gates had already sparingly doled out 
were the last which he allowed Arnold to receive.^ He 
himself, with numerous brigades of fresh and zealous 
soldiers at his disposal, refused even to make a demon- 
stration for the purpose of distracting, and detaining in 
his front, the left wing of the British army. As soon, 
therefore, as General Phillips became convinced that 
Gates did not mean fighting, he marched, like a trusty 
comrade, towards the noise of the cannon ; and, (a very 

1 The Americans were unable to make use of the abandoned field- 
pieces, because they had no means of igniting the powder. On each occa- 
sion the British artillery-men carried away the linstocks, and brought them 
back again when the enemy were repulsed, and the guns recovered. 
After the captain of the battery had fallen, his successor in command 
"had his cap shot off whilst spiking the cannon." 

^ On this point the military writers of both nations are all in the same 
story. Mr. John Fortescue, in the Eleventh chapter of his Third volume, 
says that, if Gates had supplied the additional troops for which he wa? 
asked, *• Arnold must certainly have broken the British centre." 


welcome surprise for Burgoyne,) he brought cannon with 
him.^ A battery of field-pieces, with ammunition-boxes 
full, and the gunners all alive and unwounded, discharged 
grape at musket-range among the scattered groups of 
exhausted Americans. The vanguard of Riedesel's 
Brunswickers next appeared upon the scene. Seven 
companies of German infantry advanced into action 
at the double; and General Phillips, by his personal 
exertions and example, rallied and led forward the 
Twentieth, an old Minden regiment which still con- 
tained some veterans with whom he had stirring 
memories in common. Arnold had now done all that 
man could do. When night settled down upon the 
carnage and the uproar, he abandoned his ground, and 
fell back a few furlongs ; which, in that blind and 
tangled region, took him as much out of harm's way as 
if his retreat had been extended over as many miles. 

On the nineteenth September victory, technically 
speaking, rested with Burgoyne ; inasmuch as the 
ground which he retained, as the prize of a desperate 
encounter, lay a mile and a half in front of the camp 
whence he had gone forth to battle. But the general 
of a nation which looks back with pride upon many 
notable and decisive triumphs sets little store on a 
small and doubtful success when he is not in a position 
to pursue, and improve, his advantage. Burgoyne had 
made arrangements for renewing active operations at 
day-break on the twentieth ; but General Fraser repre- 
sented to him that the Grenadiers and Light Infantry, 
who were to lead the attack, were too fatigued to 
behave with their customary spirit ; and General 
Hamilton's regiments, for the time being, could not be 
taken into account as a fighting force. In the quarter 
where that gallant brigade had stood the sun went 
down, and rose, upon a melancholy scene. The fields 
were thickly strewn with dead bodies, and with a mul- 

1 Burgoyne, in his public despatches, warmly acknowledged the ser- 
vices rendered by the Artillery ; as has not always heen done by more 
fortunate, and much more famous, captains. 


titude of wounded whom it had been impossible to 
remove so long as the conflict lasted. Our officers 
were reminded by certain grim incidents that they 
were not now campaigning in the civilised plains of 
Germany. Large packs of wolves made night hideous 
by their howls. Indians prowled through the surround- 
ing forest, scalping the dead and dying who had fallen 
among the brushwood, and were with difficulty re- 
strained from invading that open space, covered with 
English bodies, where the prey which they coveted was 
to be found in the greatest abundance. There was no 
time to lose ; and friends and foes were buried together, 
hastily, and for the most part very unceremoniously. 
Burgoyne had persuaded himself, against the evidence 
of his acute and practised eyes, that the enemy had 
suffered far more heavily than his own army. He 
reported the American loss, in an official letter, at two 
thousand men ; which was six times the real figure, 
and more than two-thirds of the entire force that Bene- 
dict Arnold had been able to bring into action. 

Burgoyne was always wiser than his own despatches ; 
and the tactics which he actually adopted did not 
indicate a genuine belief that he had made a great 
slaughter of his opponents with a comparatively small 
sacrifice of his own soldiers. He countermanded the 
orders which he had issued for an aggressive move- 
ment ; and the energies of his army were thenceforward 
diverted to the construction of fortifications. During 
the coming fortnight relays of a thousand men were 
constantly at work with spade, and saw, and hatchet. 
On the river-bank, in rear of our camp, three redoubts 
protected the hospitals, the magazines, and the landing- 
place of the barges. The face of the British position, 
only a cannon-shot from the American lines, was 
covered by a ditch and parapet ; heavy guns, of which 
Burgoyne possessed a great store, were disposed in 
battery at frequent intervals along the entire front ; and 
the timber was felled over a breadth of several hundred 
paces, so as to present a clear field for the play of 


artillery. Every battalion was expected to be under 
arms a full hour before dawn.^ Colonel Breymann's 
Hessians, who had acquired deserved credit by their 
behaviour in the recent engagement, were stationed on 
the extreme right. Freeman's Farm, a dearly-bought 
acreage, for which it was likely that there would soon 
again be eager bidders, was committed to the charge 
of Lord Balcarres ; while on the left flank towards the 
river, in comparative security, were quartered General 
Hamilton's attenuated regiments. Their ranks had 
been replenished by a large infusion of Provincial 
Loyalists ; and some weeks of hard drilling, at the very 
least, were indispensably necessary before the new 
drafts could be brought up to the standard of the best 
EngHsh infantry. At sunset on the twenty-first Sep- 
tember there was a general discharge of artillery from 
the American batteries, followed by **a great stir and 
shouting " which lasted all through the night. The 
cause of this unusual demonstration was not known in 
the British camp until, four days subsequently, a cornet 
of Brunswick Dragoons, who had been taken at Ben- 
nington, was sent across the lines with a message from 
Gates. This young officer brought word that General 
Lincoln had swooped down upon Burgoyne's com- 
munications ; had made himself master of Sugar Hill, 
and other outworks of Ticonderoga ; and had captured 
three hundred prisoners, as well as several gun-boats, 
and the whole of the nine or ten score barges which 
were employed on Lake Champlain in transporting 
Commissariat and Ordnance Stores for the use of 
Burgoyne's fighting army. All our detached posts had 
been successively attacked. In some cases the assail- 
ants were repelled and very roughly handled ; but the 
three or four Royal garrisons, which survived Lincoln's 

1 At this point in the progress of the narrative Colonel Gerald Boyle 
placed in the hands of the author his manuscript Notes on the War of the 
American Revolution. Those notes, under a modest title, form a com- 
prehensive store-house of accurate information, arranged with admirable 
clearness, and illustrated by sound, and most perceptive, observations and 


inroad, were cooped up helplessly within forts and 
block-houses, or on small islands in a sheet of water 
engirdled by an unfriendly shore. 

Burgoyne had now been effectually cut off from 
Canada ; and the whole land that lay to the south of 
him was an unknown country, enveloped in a cloud of 
mystery through which he dimly discerned the menac- 
ing features of an immense disappointment. There 
began to be something oppressive in the almost un- 
broken silence maintained by that personage with whose 
intentions and proceedings it was an affair of life and 
death for him to be acquainted. In the middle of 
September he had received a letter from Sir WilHam 
Howe, dated two full months back ; and not a syllable 
before or since. This despatch was culpably, — and, 
(considering Burgoyne's situation,) almost cruelly, — 
vague and brief. Howe foreshadowed, rather than an- 
nounced, a plan of marching into Pennsylvania, and 
thereby adding another hundred miles to the hundred 
and fifty which already separated him from Burgoyne's 
army. Sir Henry Clinton, in the meanwhile, was to be 
left in command at New York ; and, (to employ Howe's 
own careless and nebulous words,) " would act as occur- 
rences might direct" Some days afterwards one of 
Clinton's messengers arrived with three meagre, and 
most disheartening, lines of cipher. Sir Henry ex- 
pressed himself as willing, under certain contingencies, 
to move North with as large a handful of troops as could 
safely be borrowed from the garrison of New York city.^ 
That was a very different matter from the fine army of 
twenty thousand British soldiers whom, (if there had 
been any truth in Lord George Germaine's promises, or 
any forethought and precision in his military arrange- 
ments,) Burgoyne was to have found awaiting him at 

1 Sir Henry Clinton's letter ran as follows. " You know my poverty ; 
but if with 2,000 men, which is all I can spare from this important post, 
I can do anything to facilitate your operations, I will make an attack 
upon Fort Montgomery, if you will let me know your wishes." Fort 
Montgomery was a Republican stronghold on the Hudson River, a 
hundred miles to the South of Albany. 


Albany. Reading the two despatches together, the 
unhappy general came to the conclusion that Sir William 
Howe had forgotten all about him. With very bad 
news in rear, and worse than no news from his front 
he was at a loss to determine the quarter towards which 
his strategical efforts ought henceforward to be di 
rected. The impulse which had borne him thus far on 
his career gradually died away ; and he lingered, passive 
and stationary, at the spot where he had halted, — pray- 
ing for some unlikely turn of fortune, consuming his 
limited reserve of provisions, and putting a few last 
touches of perfection to his elaborate intrenchments. 

Burgoyne could complete his preparations for de- 
fence at the greater leisure because a quarrel, which 
raged at the headquarters of the American army, 
distracted the attention, and deadened the alacrity, of 
the enemy. Gates, who formerly had been Arnold's 
staunchest patron and most warm admirer, had altered 
his sentiments ever since that officer came northwards 
possessed of Washington's confidence, and in the 
character of Schuyler's friend. Thenceforward he 
regarded his second in command with distrust which, 
after the nineteenth September, was intensified into 
bitter jealousy. It has been truly remarked that "but 
for Arnold, on that eventful day, Burgoyne would 
have marched into Albany at the autumnal equinox, a 
victor ; " ^ and yet this inestimable service, which should 
by rights have constituted an overpowering claim upon the 
gratitude of General Gates, assumed in his jaundiced 
view the complexion of an unpardonable injury. In the 
report of the battle which he sent to Congress no 
mention whatever was made of Arnold, nor of Arnold's 
division ; although it is hardly too much to say that 
every soldier, who took part in the combat, belonged 
to one or other of Arnold's regiments.^ So flagrant 

^ Lossing's Life of Schuyler; Vol. II., Chapter 19. 

2 At the very last moment, in the gloom of evening, a few companies 
of Massachusetts infantry, from ancjther general's command, were sent to 
Arnold's support ; and they certainly did their best to make up for lost 


an injustice provoked from the slighted general a 
written remonstrance which was acrimoniously, and 
even contemptuously, resented by his superior officer. 
Gates, only too well aware that Arnold's temper was 
a short one, deliberately entered upon a most artful 
system of annoyance and provocation. He disobliged 
his eminent subordinate by a series of petty ill-services, 
plied him to his face with studied insults, and in his 
absence filled the air with sarcasms which were intended 
to reach his ears. Colonel Wilkinson, who knew how 
to please his chief, set afloat a story that Arnold had 
taken no personal share in the battle, and had remained 
safe in camp as long as bullets were flying ; ^ but that 
tale was, for the present, circulated only in whispers 
and in private letters, for Arnold's aides-de-camp had 
the reputation of being fiery fellows.^ The victim of 
this cowardly persecution, before very long, came to 
the end of his patience ; and, at the close of a stormy 
interview, he asked Gates for permission to leave the 
army and retire to Philadelphia. When the news got 
abroad, the rank and file were excited and indignant ; 
large numbers of regimental officers openly protested 
in terms which, according to strict military notions, 
were not without a savour of mutiny ; and the generals 
signed a memorial entreating their distinguished com- 
rade to remain with them for at least one more 
battle. Touched by such an expression of feeling, 
Arnold declared himself willing to postpone his resig- 
nation ; but the command of his division was with- 
drawn from him, and he was no longer invited to 
attend at Councils of War. He could not, however, 

^ This impudent falsehood has been judged worthy of refutation by 
several excellent historians, who have shown " by an overwhelming 
weight of evidence " that Arnold was in the battle of the nineteenth 
September. One might as well demand evidence to prove that Nelson 
was in the sea-fight off Cape St. Vincent. 

2 Colonel Henry Livingston, who had been on Schuyler's staff, and 
now was on Arnold's, fought a duel " about a matter growing out of 
the quarrel between Gates and Arnold." Life of Benedict Arnold \ 
Chapter IX. 


find the heart to tear himself away from the neighbour- 
hood of the army ; and Benedict Arnold still continued 
to haunt the camp as if he were an amateur civilian 
curious to see what a battle was like, and to experience, 
for once in his lifetime, the novel sensation of being 
under fire. 

Gates got quit of Arnold with the less compunction 
because he had at his disposal a substitute whom he 
professed to regard as the better soldier of the two. 
When General Lincoln had done all that he was able 
to accomplish against Ticonderoga, he was summoned 
to Bemis's Heights, and appointed second in command 
of the Northern army. He remonstrated earnestly 
against his own promotion, and used his best endeavours 
to reconcile his angry colleagues ; but Gates was in- 
exorable ; and, at such a crisis in the fortunes of his 
cause, Lincoln was too good a patriot to refuse a post 
of danger even for the most honourable and disinterested 
of motives. The Americans, — in numbers, in temper, 
and in aptitude for the sort of fighting which they had 
on hand, — now constituted a force with which any 
general might proudly and confidently serve. Lincoln 
himself had brought with him from the Lakes a rein- 
forcement of two thousand men. The Governors of 
Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts had 
already sent forward as many battalions of militia as 
they could provide with officers ; and the ranks of 
those battalions were still in course of being recruited 
by a process which vividly illustrates the national 
character, and the special circumstances, of this ex- 
traordinary war. From every State in New England 
during the last fortnight there had poured, or trickled, 
into camp a stream of armed citizens who might have 
hesitated to encounter the delays and disgusts of a pro- 
tracted campaign, but who knew that a sharp and final 
battle was imminent, and had made up their minds to 
see that battle through. The older farmers, who would 
not be troubled to drill, and who never felt comfort- 
able outside their working garments, went forth from 


their homes on horseback singly, or in small parties. 
They presented an unmilitary, and sometimes a rather 
grotesque, appearance on the road ; ^ but they looked 
business-like enough when loading and firing impertur- 
bably from behind a judiciously selected tree in the 
foremost line of skirmishers. The periodical return of 
effectives in Gates's army was always larger than that 
of the week before, and always below the truth. His 
force was estimated at between thirteen and fourteen 
thousand men ; and he still was engaged in extending 
and strengthening his fortifications as diligently as if 
the adversaries in front of him had been in the pro- 
portion of two to one, instead, at the very utmost, of 
one to three. 

Burgoyne's followers dwindled almost as quickly as 
his foes increased. The condition of the Royal army 
was already very miserable. Three months spent 
among the brambles by day, and in damp bivouacs at 
night, had reduced the uniforms to tatters. There was 
no spare clothing ; no wine or coffee ; no sustenance 
except salt pork and flour even for the sick and 
wounded. The grass in the meadows by the riverside 
had very soon been eaten, and many horses died of 
sheer starvation. Our people were altogether debarred 
from availing themselves of the inviting and multifarious 
resources with which that teeming valley abounded. 
Too few for the adequate protection of their threatened 
earthworks, they could not detach covering-parties 
large enough to ensure the safety of their foragers. 
The Americans, on the other hand, who had very few 

1 At a later period in the war a British officer, who met one of these 
people on the march, was reminded of Don Quixote, than whom there 
have been many worse soldiers. The Yankee horseman was described as 
sitting bolt upright, in stirrups which the toe could but just reach, his 
long lank visage crowned by a grizzled wig and a large flap-hat ; saddle- 
bags behind him, provision-bags in front, and his " blazing-iron " on his 
shoulder. He bestrode a gaunt steed with a long switch-tail and mane 
down to the knees, which shuffled along at the pace of eight or nine 
miles an hour. It was, (according to English ideas,) "an unaccountable 
wriggling gait, that, till you are accustomed to it, you are more fatigued 
in riding two miles than in a whole day's fox-chase." 


routine duties to occupy their time and damp their 
spirits, regarded the war of outposts as an animating 
pastime. The woods were full of them ; and a day 
seldom passed on which some act of audacity was 
not successfully attempted by Republican soldiers or 
partisans. Forty or fifty seamen from Burgoyne's 
flotilla were made prisoners while searching for food in 
the deserted plantations on the east shore of the Hudson 
River; several of our privates, who were digging up 
potatoes in a field only a quarter of a mile to rear of 
the British headquarters, were surprised and captured ; 
and thirty others were surrounded and carried off by 
a troop of young farmers from the nearest township 
who were out on a frolic with their shot-guns. While 
an enemy was bustling around them from dawn to 
dusk, and sometimes all through the night, the Royal 
troops suffered painfully from want of sleep ; and that 
infliction fell with special severity upon our officers, who 
during this trying campaign accepted a noble equality 
with the rank and file in discomfort and privation, and 
had very much more than their due share of wounds, 
and toil, and watching.^ 

In the first week of October the army was placed 
upon a two-thirds ration. Hope had by this time 
departed from every breast, and the void created by 
its loss was in many cases not supplied by a sense of 
duty. The Indians were the first to slip away north- 
wards, and were soon followed by most of the Canadians 
and the local Tories. Desertions became alarmingly 
frequent among the English and German regiments. 
The edge of the forest, where the runaways found a 
sure haven, was everywhere close at hand; and the 
Royal camp was infested by Republican emissaries, in 
the guise of Loyalists, who promised the over-worked 

^ "I do not believe," Burgoyne wrote, "that either officer or soldier 
ever slept during this interval without his clothes, or that any General 
officer, or commander of a regiment, passed a single night without being 
on his legs, occasionally at different hours, and constantly an hour before 


and under-fed soldiers that, when they once reached 
the American lines, they would find the best of good 
living, and a discipline incomparably less strict than in 
the most lax of European armies. Burgoyne called his 
three principal lieutenants together, exposed the situa- 
tion frankly, and asked for suggestions and advice. 
General Riedesel pronounced himself in favour of an 
instant withdrawal towards Lake George and Ticon- 
deroga; and his view was shared by General Eraser, 
while General Phillips declined to give any opinion 
whatsoever. Burgoyne thereupon intimated that, if he 
and his troops were alone concerned, he should com- 
mence his retreat at daybreak on the morrow ; but he 
reminded the gallant men with whom he was conversing 
that greater interests than their own were at stake. 
The loss of their line of escape to Canada would be a 
partial and remediable misfortune for England ; but, if 
the pressure were taken off General Gates, that officer 
would forthwith lead his fourteen thousand men to the 
assistance of General Washington. Sir William Howe, 
in all probability, would be defeated and destroyed ; 
the war would come to a sudden and calamitous ter- 
mination ; and the colonies would be lost to the King. 
Burgoyne further remarked, — commenting quietly, and 
most justly, upon Lord George Germaine's unqualifiable 
conduct, — that his own army had evidently been in- 
tended from the very first to be hazarded, and that 
circumstances had now arrived which might require it 
to be devoted. He would therefore, (he said,) make one 
more attempt, by operating against the left flank of 
the enemy, to discover whether there still remained 
any possibility of forcing, sword in hand, a passage to 

On the morning of the seventh October Burgoyne 
issued from his lines with all, and more than all, the 
force which he could prudently withdraw from the 
garrisons of his numerous redoubts. He advanced in 
a south-westerly direction to a point within a short 
distance of the American intrenchments ; halted in a 


large field of uncut wheat; and deployed his troops 
behind the fences, and amidst the standing corn. 
Lord Balcarres, with the Light Infantry, took post 
upon the right. Then came the Twenty-Fourth regi- 
ment, and several thin battalions of Germans; while on 
the extreme left stood our Grenadiers under Major 
Acland, who had been wounded at Hubbardtown, but 
was so cleverly and assiduously nursed by his wife that 
he contrived not to miss a single battle. Six British, 
and four Hessian, cannon were planted in groups all 
along the centre of the array, on convenient spots of 
rising ground. The various sections of the line were 
under the charge of Riedesel, Phillips, and Simon 
Fraser; every one of whom was fit to command an 
army corps, instead of a poor five hundred infantry 
apiece. This meaningless and objectless military ex- 
pedition, which on Burgoyne's part was a counsel of 
despair, was dignified by the title of a ** reconnaissance 
in force;" but that is a misnomer, for our people 
could learn nothing about the lie of the country 
or the situation of the enemy, and they did not even 
discern any signs of the tempest which was gathering 
a few hundred paces in their immediate front. At 
four in the afternoon a perfect deluge of assailants un- 
expectedly and simultaneously bore down upon them 
with equal violence in every quarter. Colonel Morgan 
with fifteen hundred men, — as many as all the Royal 
troops together, — attacked Balcarres in front and rear ; 
and nearly the whole of two powerful brigades marched 
steadily and rapidly against Acland. As soon as the 
Americans came into view '* a terrible discharge of 
musket-balls and grape made great havoc among the 
branches of the trees over their heads." But our gun- 
ners and our Grenadiers soon got the range ; a conflict 
ensued, marked by splendid rivalry in valour; the 
fighting was at close quarters, and often hand to hand ; 
and some of the field-pieces were taken, and re-taken, 
five times over. The mere vicinity of such a pande- 
monium was destructive to the composure of ordinary 



soldiers. A Brunswick battalion, drawn up next in 
line to the right, retired in confusion before it had lost 
a man. General Riedesel, and his staff, rode in among 
the fugitives with bare swords, and rallied them behind 
the Hesse Hanau artillery ; but Acland's flank was laid 
open, and the Americans had at least a whole regiment 
hotly engaged for every one of his four companies. 
The Grenadiers fell back ; and their brave leader, 
through no fault of his comrades, remained desperately 
wounded in the power of the enemy.^ 

When the firing began in earnest Arnold was neither 
to hold nor to bind, and in a very few minutes he was 
spurring towards the front on the swiftest of all his 
short-lived animals. Behind him, at an ever increasing 
interval, rode one of Gates's aides-decamp with orders to 
arrest his progress, and bring him straight back to Head- 
quarters. This unfortunate officer followed the chase 
during the whole afternoon, and was led in the course 
of it through some very dangerous places ; but he would 
have been in far greater hazard of his life if he had ever 
succeeded in laying his hand on the lapel of Benedict 
Arnold's coat. For Arnold, intoxicated by a violent 
reaction from the gloomy silence in which he had been 
eating his heart during the last fortnight, was not at 
this moment master of himself, although on that day 
he dominated and inspired, as never before, every one 
of his countrymen with whom he came in contact. In 
quest of the shortest cut towards the point at which he 
was aiming, he galloped midway between the opposing 
lines through a shower of crossing bullets ; and, at the 
further end of that perilous avenue, he met a strong body 
of Massachusetts infantry, who greeted their former 
commander with loud huzzas. Giving them the word of 
command in a vigorous phrase, which most certainly 

1 Acland had been shot through both legs, and he was a large, heavy 
man. An English captain carried him as far as his ov/n strength held 
out, and then proclaimed that he would give fifty guineas to any soldier 
who could bring the Major home alive. " A stout Grenadier instantly 
took him on his back, and was hastening into camp when they were 
overtaken, and made prisoners." 


was not taken from the pages of an Army Manual, he 
brandished his blade in the air, and, with the headlong 
energy of a madman, and the infallible instinct of a true 
soldier, he launched his three regiments against the 
main battle which connected the two wings of Burgoyne's 
army. The Germans offered a creditable resistance; 
but they were out-matched in number, in enthusiasm, 
and, (above all,) in the precision of their fire. Four 
Hessian captains fell in quick succession ; Arnold, after 
a first rebuff, came storming back again at the head of 
his New Englanders ; Burgoyne's centre was broken ; 
and, when the infantry left the field, it was impossible 
to withdraw the cannon. The teams of draught-horses, 
— an easy target for riflemen who could hit a deer 
running, — had been shot down ; most of the artillery- 
men in Major Williams's battery of six-pounders had 
been killed or wounded ; and he, and all his junior 
officers, were captured in a last attempt to rescue the 
guns without which they did not greatly care to return 
to camp. 

Meanwhile the British troops on the right wing were 
contending manfully against threefold odds. Our Light 
Infantrymen, who by this time were proficients in the 
tactics of the backwoods, had sheltered themselves be- 
hind such cover as was attainable ; while Simon Fraser, 
riding continuously and slowly up and down the line on 
his iron-grey charger, in the full uniform of a British 
general, was the life and soul of the unequal fight, and 
the observed of both armies. It was only too evident 
that he had attracted the particular attention of a skilled 
and persistent marksman. The crupper of his horse 
was grazed by a rifle-ball ; almost immediately afterwards 
another passed through the mane, just behind the ears ; 
and the third traversed Eraser's body. He was carried 
away mortally hurt, and the command devolved upon 
Lord Balcarres.^ That officer was already hard pressed, 

^ Lieutenant Anburey described how General Fraser was brought out 
of the fight, supported in the saddle by a friend on either side of his 
horse. He was met by officers eagerly inquiring as tt; his wound ; but 



and in a few more minutes would have been entirely 
surrounded. He commenced a retreat, which was saved 
from being a calamitous rout by the heroism of his 
soldiers. Their perfect discipline, and their readiness 
to face about and fight, kept the enemy in respect, and 
screened from too close a pursuit the much less orderly 
rearward movement of Burgoyne's left and centre. 
Success was impossible from the first; but the affair 
had been fought out with unusual thoroughness. Five 
and twenty British officers had been killed or wounded ; 
a hundred soldiers of the royal army were buried in and 
about the wheat-field ; and Burgoyne lost every one of 
the ten guns he had brought with him into action. 
According to an eye-witness, who took the time by his 
watch, the engagement had lasted exactly fifty-two 

There, if it had rested with General Gates, the matter 
would have ended. He never left his Headquarters ; 
he looked into nothing with his own eyes ; and all that 
still remained of the afternoon must have been consumed 
in sending him information about the altered position of 
affairs, and in waiting for any fresh orders which he 
might be pleased to issue. But Benedict Arnold had a 
very definite notion of his own about the use to which 
the next two hours should be put. Without more ado 
he assumed the command of all the troops who were near 
enough to hear his voice and obey his vehement gestures, 
and marched them in the direction of the British forti- 
fications. Burgoyne's right was covered by a field-work 
of horseshoe form, where Colonel Breymann had been 
stationed with an insufficient force of Brunswick in- 
fantry ; while the open space in front of Freeman's 
Farm was searched by the fire of a redoubt, with walls 
from twelve to sixteen feet in height, flanked by strong 

his only answer was a melancholy shake of the head. His sufferings 
were horrible. " Did he whose soul was so full of noble and sublime 
impulses die here, shot through like some ravening beast?" That reflec- 
tion passed through the mind of William Dean Howells when standing 
on the spot where Wolfe fell ; and the same thought is irresistibly sug- 
gested by the story of Fraser's death-bed. 


intrenchments behind which some heavy guns were 
mounted. This was the point against which Arnold's 
first attack was levelled ; but Balcarres, who superin- 
tended the defence, took care that his artillerymen 
should load with grape ; the privates of the Light com- 
panies had re-filled their cartridge-boxes ; and the 
Americans were handsomely repulsed. Baffled, but not 
daunted or depressed, Arnold made a second throw for 
victory in another quarter ; and, with the daylight fading 
around him, he hurriedly arranged for a combined assault 
on the face, and rear, of the German position. His 
impetuous onset carried everything before it. Breymann 
was killed ; and those of his troops who could not make 
their escape laid down their arms, and surrendered them- 
selves prisoners by dozens and by scores. Arnold was 
pushing in through the sally-port just as their last volley 
was fired. His horse rolled over, stone-dead; and his 
thigh-bone was shivered by a bullet which a wounded 
German discharged from a few paces off. Arnold, who 
admired the man's courage, and probably would have 
done the same in his place, insisted that the fine fellow, 
(as he called him,) should not be bayoneted. It was 
the leg that had been injured at Quebec, and the surgeon 
talked of amputation ; but the General would not hear 
of it. If that, (said Arnold,) was all the doctors could 
do for him, they had better lift him on another horse, 
and let him see the battle out. He was perhaps the 
only man in either army who did not think it already 
high time that the battle was over. ^ 

Night set in ; the clangour of arms ceased ; and 
EngUshmen and Americans, in close proximity, flung 
themselves exhausted on the ground which they had kept 
or won. No fires were lit ; no sentinels challenged ; and 
no human sound was heard except the lamentations of 

^ These were the circumstances under which the Staff Officer, who 
had so long been following Arnold about the field, finally overtook him, 
and unburdened himself of his belated message. It was to the effect that 
General Gates desired General Arnold to do nothing rash. 


the wounded, which in their sad concert were not dis- 
tinctive of nationahty. The time and place were such 
that the only safety lay in sitting still. A Brunswick 
colonel, stung by certain reflections on German valour 
with which the intelligence of Arnold's final success was 
received at the British Headquarters, collected a small 
party of his countrymen, and sallied forth upon a des- 
perate attempt to reconquer the abandoned position ; 
but he was encountered in the woods by a sham Loyalist, 
who conducted him to the hostile lines, where he was 
captured with all his officers. Burgoyne knew no sleep 
that night, and little enough for many nights to come. 
He was far too old and clever a soldier not to recognise 
that the great game had gone against him. He had not 
sought death, and still less had he shunned it ; but he 
went wherever he was wanted on that busy afternoon 
without caring whether he were killed or not. His hat 
and clothes were pierced with musket-balls ; and his 
favourite aide-de-camp had been struck down by his 
side, and at that very moment was dying on General 
Gates's own bed.^ But Burgoyne himself had come alive 
out of the rain of bullets, and it still was incumbent on 
him to take what measures he could devise in order to 
make the best of an almost hopeless situation. 

The Americans were now inside his lines, sheltered 
by earth-works which he had himself erected, and with 
many of his own cannon ready to be pointed at his own 
troops. All his British and German regiments had, 
twice or thrice during the course of the expedition, 
been tested in battle up to the very limit of their en- 
durance, and had lost most of their best and bravest, 
and in some cases more than half their entire numbers. 
His local allies, whether red or white, had very gener- 
ally deserted him ; and those of them who stayed were 

^ "As to my life," (he wrote to Sir William Howe,) " I am free from 
wounds; though my person, you may imagine, has not been spared." 
Burgoyne was able to recommend sergeants for promotion to ensigncies 
from his own personal observation of their conduct under fire. Letters of 
Oct. 20, and Nov. 26, 1777, in the Report on American Manuscripts in 
the Royal Institution of Great Britain. 


of no account as warriors. If the army was to be pre- 
served from a crushing misfortune Burgoyne could not 
afford to waste an hour of daylight, nor of torch-Hght 
either. His left wing, which on the seventh October 
had not been actively engaged, continued under arms 
through the night ; his tents were struck as quietly as 
possible ; and, when nothing more remained to be done, 
Lord Balcarres aroused his weary soldiers, and marched 
them out of the intrenchments which they had so stead- 
fastly defended. Burgoyne planted his force half a 
mile to the rearward, on some hills which overlooked 
the river and the river-road. The position, crowned by 
a large redoubt, and enclosed by impenetrable ravines, 
was as strong as a fortress ; but it covered an extent of 
only fifteen hundred paces square, and was commanded 
from end to end by the adversary's artillery. Here 
Simon Fraser died after some hours of agony, endured 
with rare composure ; and he was carried to a spot 
where he himself had desired that he should be buried. 
All his brother Generals stood around the grave, and 
a clergyman read the Service, slowly and very impres- 
sively, from the first sentence to the last, while the heavy 
shot threw up the loose earth in showers over and around 
him. On the opposite heights there were few or no 
telescopes ; and it was some while before the true pur- 
pose of the assembly was perceived by the enemy. But 
the hostile missiles suddenly ceased ; " and the solemn 
voice of a single cannon, at measured intervals, boomed 
along the valley, and awakened the responses of the 
hills. It was a minute gun fired by the Americans in 
honour of the gallant dead." ^ 

The Republican forces had taken up their ground 
within a few furlongs of the British, both on front and 
flank ; there was brisk skirmishing throughout the day ; 
and towards evening Burgoyne was informed, (as indeed 
he must have foreseen without being told,) that General 
Gates had commenced to bring round his left wing so 
as to pen our army between the Hudson River and a con- 

^ Lossing's field Book 0/ the Revolution ; Volume I., Chapter 2. 


tinuous semicircle of hostile brigades and batteries.^ 
Burgoyne was now entangled in one of those distract- 
ing, but not altogether insuperable, mazes of difficulty 
which put a commanding officer's force of will to the 
most severe and crucial proof. Washington had been 
in as bad a case after the defeat on Long Island in 
August 1776, with half his army on the wrong side of 
the channel which separated Brooklyn from the city 
of New York. Soult was in a worse plight still when, 
in May 1809, his famous adversary had forced the pas- 
sage of the Douro. But the French Marshal had the 
strength of mind to change his point of view in a single 
moment ; to abandon his well-considered plans for a 
military victory, and his wild schemes of political am- 
bition ; to sacrifice his artillery, and his vast stores of 
plunder ; and to struggle through the mountains by 
night and day until he had placed his infantry beyond 
the risk of capture. Gates, though somewhat less slug- 
gish in pursuit than in battle, was not a Sir Arthur 
Wellesley ; and, if Burgoyne had sunk his cannon in 
the Hudson, had left behind him everything which 
travelled upon wheels, had stowed his last week's pro- 
visions in the knapsacks of his soldiers, and had made 
a series of forced marches broken only by the very 
shortest pauses which repose and refreshment impera- 
tively demanded, he might have reached Lake George 
within fifty or sixty hours, bringing all his men and 
muskets with him. That was General Riedesel's view ; 
and he was a German veteran who had served on the 
weaker side in the Seven Years' War, and was familiar 
with the methods by which Frederic the Great, and 
Prince Henry of Prussia, had over and over again, to 
the astonishment and chagrin of their opponents, extri- 
cated themselves and their little armies out of the very 
tightest of tight places. 

1 In the course of the operations of the eighth October, General 
Lincoln received a wound of the same character, and gravity, as that 
which on the previous evening prostrated Arnold. Burgoyne's position 
on the day after the battle may be clearly traced in the map at the end of 
this chapter. 


To adopt a bold resolution in a supreme emergency 
is comparatively easy for a monarch at the head of his 
own troops, or for a famous captain of eminent and 
established position, and exceptionally masterful char- 
acter. Frederic and his brother were royal personages ; 
Marshal Soult, unless he is much belied, had aspired to 
a throne ; and George Washington was a king by na- 
ture ; whereas John Burgoyne was nothing more than 
a soldier on his promotion, at the beck and call, — and, 
if he met with a disaster, at the far from tender mercy, 
— of his official superiors. He was new to high re- 
sponsibilities ; he had never before held an independent 
command ; and he was only too well aware that the 
Minister of State at home, who had sent him forth so 
recklessly, and supported him so ineffectively, would 
be the first to throw him over if his retirement to 
Canada presented the appearance of a flight. Soon 
after sunset on the eighth October he commenced a 
retreat in strict conformity with the most approved 
maxims of the tactical art. General Riedesel led the 
way with four or five regiments, and a battery or two 
of field pieces ; then came the heavy guns, and a long 
train of baggage-carts ; while Burgoyne himself followed 
with the main column of infantry. The commissariat 
stores were transported by a string of barges which 
ascended the Hudson River alongside the army, taking 
care to keep as many yards of the current as possible 
between themselves and that eastern shore which, when 
day appeared, would be alive with American riflemen. 
Everything was packed up and taken away ; and nobody 
remained in camp except a few hundred dying or dis- 
abled men, whom Burgoyne expressly commended by 
letter to the generosity of his American adversary. An 
hour before midnight the rear guard set forth under 
General Phillips and Lord Balcarres, leaving their watch- 
fires burning to deceive the enemy. But those fires did 
not remain alight long, for the rain came down in floods, 
and, (according to the recollection of those exposed to 
it,) continued almost without intermission during the 


whole of the ensuing week. The march was slow, and 
toilsome in the extreme ; for the bridges over the small- 
est runlets, through which a man on foot could have 
waded, had to be repaired in order to let the carriages 
pass, and then were broken down once more with a view 
of impeding the hostile pursuit. At three next morn- 
ing Burgoyne halted, and remained stationary until he 
had lost the whole of the start which he gained under 
cover of the darkness. His leisurely progress was not 
resumed until late in the afternoon, by which time so 
much water had fallen that the road was ruined. It was 
ten at night before the British, leaving behind them most 
of their waggons embedded in the mud, took up their 
quarters in and about the Schuyler buildings on the 
south bank of the Fishkill Creek. They had consumed 
twenty-four hours over a journey of exactly eight miles. 
Next morning Burgoyne crossed the Fishkill ; but a 
more formidable obstacle lay between him and safety. 
To place his army without delay on the eastern shore 
of the Hudson River was an imperative duty to which 
he should have postponed all other considerations 
whatsoever. Early on that tenth October he sent off 
Colonel Sutherland, at the head of a sufficient force, with 
directions to occupy and repair the bridge of boats 
which the Royal Engineers had built four weeks back, 
and which still was standing. Sutherland passed his 
infantry over the river with no great difficulty, and ad- 
vanced until he was almost within sight of Fort Edward ; 
but there he was overtaken by a message of recall so 
positively worded that he had no choice except to retrace 
his steps. He left behind him, on his way back to 
camp, a company of provincial Loyalists for the pro- 
tection of the work which was in progress at the bridge ; 
but they fled as soon as a few shots were fired at them 
by a small party of Republicans. They were followed 
home, stolidly and reluctantly, by the British artificers, 
who reported that their task was already more than 
half done, and could most certainly have been finished 
before daybreak on the morrow. 


The counter-order which had been despatched to 
Colonel Sutherland was deplorable, but not quite inex- 
plicable ; for at that moment Burgoyne wanted to have 
the whole of his small army gathered together on one 
spot, and ready to his own hand. His heart was not 
in the retreat to Canada, and he even now hankered 
after another opportunity of trying conclusions with 
the adversary. General Gates's vanguard at length 
began to show itself in the southern quarter ; and 
Burgoyne, ardently desiring to be attacked, made 
preparations for a defensive battle which, if success- 
fully conducted on his part, would go far to redeem 
the campaign. He posted his batteries, and drew up 
his regiments in Hne of battle, along the low hills over- 
looking Fishkill Creek. A broad space in front of his 
guns was cleared of everything that could afford cover 
to the American sharpshooters ; and the Schuyler 
mansion on the other side of the stream, behind which 
Gates might have assembled and formed his columns 
of attack, was burned to the ground by Burgoyne's 
orders.^ Our privates were overheard blessing Provi- 
dence for the timely rain which would damp the prim- 
ing of the fire-arms, and give an honest British grenadier 
a chance of getting at the rebels with his bayonet. 
Burgoyne was always enthusiastically followed, and 
efficiently served. He had acquired the respect of 
his soldiers by treating them respectfully, and had 
secured the esteem of his officers by the scrupulous 
regard for justice which he exhibited in all his pro- 
fessional relations, and by his unaffected and easy 
friendliness when off duty. From the first hour of 
the expedition, up to the very latest, his commands 
were eagerly and punctually obeyed ; and seldom has 
a general, and never perha|)s a luckless general, been 

^ During the previous night a range of barracks and storehouses, 
forming part of General Schuyler's establishment, had perished in a fire 
which was beyond question accidental. The buildings were full of British 
soldiers, many of them sick and wounded, who were rescued from the 
flames with the utmost difficulty. Sergeant Lamb, the historian, for one^ 
barely escaped alive. 


more heartily beloved by his comrades and subordinates. 
Fortune, during a short five minutes, seemed to 
repent of the cruelty with which she had hitherto 
pursued the gallant Englishman. On the morning of 
the eleventh October, General Gates made a forward 
movement in the direction of Burgoyne's position. A 
thick mist shrouded the tiny valley which lay between 
the two armies ; and twelve or fifteen hundred of the 
best New England regulars had advanced beyond the 
stream, and were already mounting the opposite slope, 
when the fog suddenly lifted, and they found them- 
selves separated by only two hundred yards of open 
pasture from the muzzles of Burgoyne's cannon, and 
the serried ranks of his musketeers. The grapeshot 
commenced to fly, and the British infantry made ready 
for a charge ; but the Americans, officers and men 
alike, took in the situation at a glance, and re-passed 
the glen with small loss, and in most admired disorder. 
A business-like people, they had a firm hold upon the 
great military truth that the first object of a retreat is 
to get safe away ; and in that respect the incident 
might have served as a lesson to poor Burgoyne. 
Nothing disconcerted by the repulse of their centre, 
the Republicans pressed forward, on left and right, in 
overpowering numbers and with definite purpose. The 
various manoeuvres upon which their hopes of a whole- 
sale and conclusive victory depended were executed 
skilfully and promptly, and with as great an exertion 
of valour as on each occasion was necessary for the 
attainment of the end in view. General Fellows, with 
at least three thousand men, posted himself soHdly 
beyond the Hudson River ; lined the shore with cannon; 
constructed an intrenchment which effectually blocked 
the egress from Burgoyne's bridge ; and beset the fords 
and ferries along the great river as far north as Fort 
Edward. General Gates arranged his guns, and drew 
up his main army, on the southern bank of Fishkill 
Creek ; while Colonel Morgan forded that rivulet a 
mile or two higher up, wheeled to the eastward, and 


stationed the whole of his command, with well-judged 
audacity, just in front of the forest which bordered the 
flank of Burgoyne's camp. 

That camp was a mile and a half long, and in very 
few places more than half a mile across. Hardly a 
single spot within it lay beyond point-blank range of an 
American cannon. The round-shot hurtled through 
the air from morning till evening, and the surest marks- 
men in Colonel Morgan's own regiment spent the whole 
of the daylight mounted aloft in trees which commanded 
the interior of the principal British redoubt. The only 
trustworthy cover inside the fortification was afforded 
by the angle which directly faced the adversary ; and 
there the whole garrison clustered, " harassed and fa- 
tigued with continually sitting and lying on the ground, 
all huddled in a small compass." ^ The horses were 
herded, out of the reach of cannon-balls, in rugged 
and barren ravines where they had no provender 
but dry leaves ; " and, so sure as a poor horse was 
allured by the temptation of some refreshing grass, 
which grew in the meadows in great abundance, it 
met with instant death by a rifle-shot." Many of the 
provision-boats had been captured, and others were 
sunk by General Fellows's artillery ; so that it became 
necessary to land their cargoes, and transport the 
barrels and sacks into the redoubts on the shoulders of 
the men, with vast labour, and some loss of life from 
the enemy's musketry. The soldiers, debarred from 
cutting wood and lighting fires, lived upon raw food 
which would not have been very dainty or nutritive 
even if they had possessed the means of cooking it. 

1 Lieutenant Anburey's letter of the 17th November, 1777, gives an 
account of what passed inside the Britisli camp during that last week 
of the campaign. "The soldiers," he wrote, "would hoist a cap upon 
a stick over the works ; when instantly there would be one or two shots 
fired at it, and as many holes through it. I have seen a cap that has 
been perforated by three balls." Our men were forbidden to reply, for 
fear of thrtjwing away their ammunition at a moment when the enemy 
might V)e meditating an assault in force. Anburey's narrative is con- 
firmed by the frank and unvarnished evidence given by Lord Balcarres in 
May 1779. 


Luxuries there were none ; and comforts were scarce, 
and exorbitantly dear. New England rum was sold, to 
those who could pay for it, at a guinea the half-pint ; 
and the generals sate on mattresses spread out in a circle 
upon the soaked and inhospitable soil. Shelterless, and 
in sodden rags, our people starved and suffered ; while 
the pitiless rain descended upon them in streams, as it 
had continued to descend ever since the retreat began. 

The whole encampment was so closely surrounded, 
and so completely exposed, that there was no sanctuary 
available even for the weakest and the most unwarlike. 
Four officers had brought their wives with them on the 
expedition. Two of the husbands, shot down in battle, 
were lying between life and death ; and a third had been 
killed outright. It was no place for women. During 
the past three weeks, while the army lay in front of 
Bemis's Heights, these ladies had endured much dis- 
comfort and distress in a house where the entrance-hall 
and parlours were strewn with poor fellows enfeebled 
by dysentery ; while in the bed-rooms officers were dying, 
or praying that they might die, of frightful wounds. 
The dwelHng, which had now been allotted to them as 
a refuge on the beleaguered peninsula above Saratoga, 
was a still more crowded hospital, and a shambles too ; 
for a well-directed cannonade carried death and mutila- 
tion through all the upper chambers where the surgeons 
were at work. A great number of women and children, 
with invalided and maimed soldiers, — and a few, but 
only a few, uninjured poltroons, — sate packed in fetid 
squalor behind the cellar-doors. They could plainly 
hear the cannon-balls rolling along the floor above their 
heads. It was believed that the gunners across the 
Hudson had mistaken this building for General Bur- 
goyne's headquarters ; ^ and a proof was soon given that 
Americans, where women are concerned, never con- 
sciously transgress the laws of chivalry. The sole supply 
of water for the Royal army was one muddy spring, and 
what more could be got out of the holes which the cattle 

1 Madame Riedesel'syisw^wa/. 


had trodden with their feet ; so that our privates were 
reduced to catch the rain in their hats, in order to make 
their flour into a paste which it was just possible to 
swallow.^ Thirst, very trying to everyone, was torture 
for the wounded, and for the Httle children, in the pesti- 
lent atmosphere of their subterranean abode. No man 
could approach the river-side by day, and live ; but a 
soldier's wife volunteered her services, and went to and 
fro with her buckets between the house and the watering- 
place, while the rifles and muskets on the opposite shore 
were all respectfully silent. 

Discipline, among the British rank and file, was main- 
tained unimpaired ; but their spirit gradually became 
quenched, and their keenness blunted. *' The utmost," 
(wrote Burgoyne,) ** that the officers gave me to hope from 
the complexion of their men was that they would fight 
if attacked. The Germans fell short of that. It was no- 
torious that they meant to have given one fire, and then 
have clubbed their arms."^ The besieged troops could 
neither force their way out, nor slip through to Canada in 
small parties. Some of the Indian warriors made a run 
for freedom ; but, with all their secrecy and agility, and 
their consummate knowledge of the woods, they failed to 
penetrate the American lines, and returned disconsolate 
to camp. Not a word arrived from Sir WiUiam Howe ; 
not a word from Sir Henry Clinton : and the Quarter- 
master-General reported that only three days' provisions, 
upon short allowance, remained in store. On the after- 
noon of the thirteenth October Burgoyne assembled a 
Council, which included all field-officers, and the captains 
in command of regiments. He had reason to believe, 
(he said,) that some, perhaps all, who were informed as 
to the real state of affairs were of a mind to capitulate ; 
but he should hold himself inexcusable if he were to 

^ These circumstances are taken from Lieutenant Anburey 's forty- 
second letter. For a long while past, (he says,) the British troops "had 
not a morsel of bread, but mixed up their fl(Hir into cakes, and baked 
them upon a stone before the (Ire." 

'■^Burgoyne to Sir William Ilowe ; October 20, 1777. American 
Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain : Volume I. 


take a step " of so great consequence to national and 
personal honour without such a concurrence of senti- 
ments as should make a treaty an act of the whole 
army as well as of the General." At the same time he 
assured them, in manly phrases, that he, and he alone, 
was responsible for the predicament in which the army 
was now placed ; inasmuch as he had never asked any- 
one for advice, but had always required, and obtained, 
obedience to his orders. The Council was unanimously 
of opinion that it would be good policy " to save to the 
King his troops by a thoroughly honourable capitulation;" 
and negotiations were opened, on the ensuing morning, 
between the English and the American commanders. 
Gates would accept nothing short of unconditional sur- 
render; and certain arbitrary and unusual demands, 
upon which he strongly insisted, were regarded as alto- 
gether intolerable to the self-respect of military men. 
The British General, speaking for himself and all his 
officers, replied that, rather than submit to any such 
terms, they would rush sword in hand on the enemy, 
and would take no quarter. In the course of his life 
John Burgoyne had often employed exaggerated and 
over-coloured language ; but on this occasion he meant 
exactly what he said, and he said it to much purpose. 
Gates gave himself another night to think the subject 
over, and then agreed that the Royal troops should march 
out of their camp with all the honours of war, and that 
the whole army should be granted a free passage to 
Great Britain from the port of Boston, upon condition 
of not serving again in North America during the then 
existing contest. That, as history will always take 
very good care to remember, was the governing clause 
in the Convention of Saratoga. 

During the whole time that messages were passing 
from camp to camp, either an informal, or a declared, 
cessation of hostilities established itself between the two 
armies. The bombardment subsided ; the more deadly 
whistle of bullets was no longer heard ; the strain on 
the besieged garrison came to a sudden end; and the 


Americans, for their part, stacked their muskets, and 
extinguished their linstocks, with a sentiment of genuine 
satisfaction and relief. Our privates thronged the bank 
of Fishkill Creek to get their fill of the cool running 
water ; and they were soon on amicable terms with ad- 
versaries who spoke their own language, who were very 
generous with the contents of their provision-wallets, 
and against whom, as man to man, they had no rational 
ground of quarrel. On the sixteenth of October, after 
many qualms, and some renewed consultation with his 
military advisers, Burgoyne signed the treaty. A great 
quantity of fresh meat at once arrived from across the 
stream for distribution among his famished battalions; 
and the remaining hours of daylight were consumed 
in preparing for the ceremony of the morrow. Before 
the negotiations were finally concluded, the last penny 
due to every Royal soldier had been paid out to him from 
the military chest. ^ The Germans burned the poles of 
their regimental flags ; and the colours themselves were 
sewn into the lining of a mattress against the day when 
they could be brought forth from their hiding-place, and 
unfurled once more in the Duke of Brunswick's presence. 
The English, whose standards had not been hired out 
for gold, and who had carried them erect and safe 
through three fiercely contested battles, did not conceive 
that any such precaution was demanded by their own, 
or their Sovereign's, honour. 

The conduct of our people, during these trying 
scenes, was manly and dignified, and exempt from any 
admixture of bravado. They marched from their 
camps to a meadow near the junction of the two rivers, 
and there deposited their arms, and emptied out their 
cartridges. Some of the men cried bitterly when part- 
ing with their weapon ; but none except friends were 
there to see. Gates, with a delicacy which the British 

^ It is pleasant to know that the poor woman, who went to the Hudson 
for water, got her share of the m(jney that was j^oing. " Everyone," 
said Madame Riedesel, "threw a wliole handful into her lap, and she 
received altogether over twenty guineas." 



generals warmly acknowledged, confined all the sepa- 
rate portions of his army in their respective quarters, 
under the strictest countersign ; and only one single 
member of his Staff was in attendance for the purpose 
of taking over the surrendered property in the name, 
and for the use, of the American people. It was a rich 
prize, consisting almost exclusively of articles which the 
captors specially needed. There were five thousand 
muskets, seventy thousand rounds of ball-cartridge, 
many ammunition-waggons, four hundred sets of harness, 
and a fine train of brass artillery, — battering guns, field 
guns, howitzers, and mortars; — forty-two pieces of ord- 
nance in all. The prisoners numbered five thousand 
eight hundred, of whom half were Germans.^ The rest 
were almost entirely British regulars ; for only a very 
small minority of the Provincial levies had stood it out 
loyally and faithfully to the last. Major Skene, a gal- 
lant enthusiast for whom the shipwreck of the cause 
which he served meant personal ruin, wrote himself down 
in the list of prisoners as " a poor follower of the British 
army." That army contained several veterans of high 
and deserved renown ; and in all the regiments, and not 
only on the Staff, there were many youths of good birth, 
and bright military promise. The Americans claimed 
to have taken six members of Parliament, at a time 
when Parliament was almost identical with fashionable 
society. Burgoyne's officers were the flower of our 
fighting aristocracy ; and they, with their handful of 
soldiers, — abandoned by incompetent Ministers to an all 
but inevitable catastrophe, — nevertheless sustained the 
national reputation for valour and discipline at the point 
to which it had been raised by the column of Fontenoy. 
Gates entertained the chief officers of the Royal army 
at a banquet of antique simplicity.^ Burgoyne, on 

^ Reckoning in the wounded, the Americans, previously to the capitu- 
lation, had already captured above eighteen hundred prisoners. 

2 The table consisted of bare planks, laid across empty barrels ; and 
the Republican camp could produce only four plates, and two drinking- 
glasses for the use of Gates and Burgoyne. There was plenty of plain 
roast and boiled, but no liquor except rum and water. 


being asked for a toast, gave *' General Washington ; " 
and his host responded by drinking to the King. 
When dinner was over, the British began their journey 
southward, passing between two parallel ranks of 
American infantry, nearly fourteen thousand by count, 
with four thousand more in the background. The 
Republicans were said to have spent the whole morning 
*' scrubbing and cleaning their persons and firelocks, in 
order to make the best appearance possible." ^ Some 
of the more reflective among our Englishmen and 
Germans were deeply impressed by the unwonted 
spectacle, and drew ominous conclusions with regard 
to the ultimate issue of the war. ''The men," said an 
officer of the Brunswick contingent, '' stood so still that 
we were filled with astonishment. Not a man made 
a motion to speak with his neighbour. Moreover, kindly 
Nature had made them so slender, so handsome, and 
so sinewy that we wondered at the sight of so well-made 
a people." They owed little to the splendour of their 
outfit. The regulars of the Continental line were appro- 
priately dressed, and carried stout knapsacks, and good 
French muskets ; but the miHtia were in costumes 
which, whatever else might be said of them, certainly 
could not be called uniforms. The coats, indeed, of the 
officers were designed with a military intention, but 
they were cut according to the wearer's own fancy, 
and from the first material that came to hand ; while 
on the flank of every battalion, with their unwieldy 
gun-barrels towering over their heads like a row of 
pikes, stood several score of respectable rural free- 
holders clothed as if for the hay-field, or, (at the very 
smartest,) for the church and the cattle-fair.^ The 

^ Letter from an officer in the London newspapers of January, 1778. 

2 The Germans noticed the size, and strange colours, of the wigs worn 
by the older among these armed citizens, and particularly by such of 
them as were Committee-men in their respective townships. Some of 
them, (we are told,) looked as if they had a whole fleece on their shoulders. 
In Mr. Edward J. Lowell's Hessians there are frequent extracts from a 
T/erman periodical which supported the views of the British Govern- 
ment, and was published at Gottingen, within George the Third's Electoral 

dominions. ^ 



Brunswick officer observed " many men fifty or sixty 
years old, who very evidently had now been brought 
for the first time into the ranks, but who had their 
hearts in the business, and were not to be made light of, 
especially in the woods. In serious earnest," (so this 
gentleman went on to say,) '*it is a nation with much 
natural talent for war." The farmers of Massachusetts 
and Connecticut might have a talent for war ; but they 
had no love of it. As soon as the fighting was done 
they returned to their families, conscious of having 
played the man, and thanking the Divine Providence 
which had given them the victory. They had more 
cause to be grateful than they yet knew ; for from that 
day forward no hostile force, which could be dignified 
by the name of an invading army, ever again threat- 
ened the New England homes. 

When the procession arrived opposite the American 
headquarters the two Commanders issued from a tent, 
and placed themselves in full view of both armies. 
Then Burgoyne delivered over his sword to Gates, who 
received it with a courteous inclination of the head, 
and instantly returned it to the owner. The sword is 
still preserved by the family. It is a soldier's weapon, 
with a blade forged for use and not for show, and a 
very solid handle of ivory which fits and fills the grasp. 
It was for many years in the possession of Field 
Marshal Sir John Fox Burgoyne, of Badajos, Ciudad 
Rodrigo, and San Sebastian, — a good soldier who was 
more fortunate than his ill-starred father in that his most 
important services were performed under the direction 
of a greater soldier than himself. 

The American general, throughout these transactions, 
behaved like a man of feeling and honour. He had 
done everything in his power to mitigate the lot of 
those sufferers whom the British, on their retreat from 
the position in front of Bemis's Heights, had left behind 
them in hospital ; ^ and when Lady Harriet Acland, 

1 It was reported to Gates that these defenceless people were in the 
greatest alarm of the scalp-hunters. He at once sent off a few light 


after some very hazardous adventures, penetrated the 
Republican outposts in search of her wounded husband, 
she was received by Gates with the sympathy and 
respect due to her sex and her unhappy fortune. There 
was another American officer whose behaviour on this 
occasion was marked by true magnanimity. Phihp 
Schuyler, with no signs of his military rank about him, 
was present at the capitulation ; and Burgoyne seized 
the opportunity to express regret that the exigencies 
of war had necessitated the burning of his fine 
country-house, and the wrecking of his valuable prop- 
erty. Schuyler in return begged him to put the 
matter, then and always, out of his thoughts, and 
promised to send an aide-de-camp with him to Albany 
who would perhaps procure him better quarters than a 
stranger might be able to find for himself. " This 
gentleman," said Burgoyne, " conducted me to a very 
elegant house and, to my great surprise, introduced me 
to Mrs. Schuyler and her family ; and in this house 
I remained during my whole stay in Albany, with a 
table of twenty covers for me and my friends, and every 
demonstration of hospitality." That hospitality was 
extended to others besides Burgoyne. When Madame 
Riedesel, shy and anxious, found herself in the midst 
of the American camp, she was encountered by '* a noble- 
looking man " in civilian dress, who lifted her children 
from the waggon, led the family into a tent where a 
wholesome meal awaited them, and told them that his 
house would be their home as long as they remained 
at Albany. The poor lady had one very bad moment 
during her sojourn beneath General Schuyler's roof; for 

horsemen at a gallop in order to reassure them ; and he directed that the 
guard at the hospital should be mounted by Morgan's riflemen from the 
frontier, whom the Indians feared worse than the devil. 

A London newspaper related that the American soldiers, who had 
plenty of food, and no means of cooking it, wished to confiscate the 
British camp-kettles ; " but General Gates decided the matter by ordering 
the kettles to remain with the English, as they would be very necessary 
for them at Boston." Three days after the surrender Burgoyne informed 
Sir William Howe that the treatment of the officers and troops in general 
had been " of an extraordinary nature in point of generosity." 


the eldest of her little girls, fascinated by the grandeur 
and the tastefulness of everything which she saw 
around her, cried, in the hearing of all the company : 
" Mother ! Mother ! Is this the palace Father was to 
have when he came to America ? " 

The districts through which the Royal army per- 
formed its long and dreary tramp to the sea-coast 
were inhabited by a very decent and worthy, and not 
unkindly people. They were exceedingly poor, with 
the temporary poverty of men who had stripped them- 
selves, first of superfluities, and afterwards of comforts, 
for the furtherance of a public cause. Nothing 
surprised the English prisoners so much as the cheerful 
unanimity with which all classes, in town and country 
alike, submitted to every sort of sacrifice in order " to 
obtain that idol Independency."^ The gentry, indeed, 
who conversed quite freely with Burgoyne's officers, 
confessed that before the outbreak of hostilities they 
had not harboured the most distant thought of separa- 
tion from the mother-country ; but they now concurred 
with the mass of their fellow-citizens in a settled and 
violent hatred of the British Parliament and the British 
Crown. They did not, however, show any inclination to 
visit the sins of George the Third upon his hapless and 
helpless servants. Whatever disagreeable experiences 
might be in store for the captive army in the Middle 
and Southern States of the Confederacy, the inhabitants 
of New England, along the whole of two hundred miles 
of road, were very seldom deficient in humanity, or, 
(after their own fashion,) in courtesy. But, all the same, 
in respect to their leading characteristics they were 
New Englanders still. The Deacons and the Select- 
men were terribly scandalised whenever the British 
troops pursued their journey during service time on a 
Sunday ; and, at any hour of every week-day, there 
were plenty of small local capitalists ready to buy 

1 Lieutenant Anburey relates, in his forty-sixth Letter, that the owners 
of some very humble cottages had parted with one out of their two 
blankets for the use of their army in the field. 


guineas from a hungry Ensign, or a thirsty Grenadier, 
for the least number of paper dollars which, in his 
ignorance as to the current rate of exchange, he could 
be induced to accept. Our younger officers upbraided 
themselves with improvidence when they recalled to 
mind the vast quantities of Continental notes which they 
found among the spoils captured at Ticonderoga, and 
which, in the lightness of their hearts, they had burned, 
or otherwise disposed of, with every circumstance of 

Burgoyne and his companions soon learned, if they 
did not know it already, that a prevailing national 
quality among Americans of that generation was their 
immense and insatiable curiosity. All through the States 
no traveller was ever left in peace until he had satisfied 
his entertainers about his extraction and antecedents, his 
trade or profession, and the business which had brought 
him into their neighbourhood ; and such unusual and 
remarkable travellers as now were passing through 
their confines New Hampshire and Massachusetts had 
never seen before. The country people dropped in 
from many miles round to line the causeways while 
the Royal infantry filed past. The girls were much in 
evidence, dressed in perfectly fitting clothes of bright 
colours, and looking exceedingly pretty in the eyes of 
poor lads who had been roughing it during three hard 
campaigns. " They stood," said an officer, " by dozens 
along our road, passing us in review, laughing mock- 
ingly at us, and from time to time dropping us a 
mischievous curtsey or handing us an apple." Such 
crowds of visitors pressed into the houses where the 
prisoners were quartered that their landlords were in 
some cases suspected of having taken money for the 
show. An unfortunate Lieutenant who had succeeded 
to a Scotch peerage, when he reached his destination 

^ At Stillwater, the first stage of their route, the British could only 
get nine dollars for each piece of gold. After crossing the Green Moun- 
tains they had learned to insist on at least eighteen or twenty dollars ; 
anl the storekeepers in the villages even then made a handsome profit by 
the transaction. 


of an evening wet to the skin and splashed with mire, 
was expected to hold a levee for the purpose of enabHng 
all the village gossips to see what a Lord was like.^ 
Burgoyne himself had to face an ordeal which, to a 
man of his temperament, was more formidable than the 
musket-balls at Freeman's Farm. On the day when he 
was invited by General Heath to a ceremonial dinner 
in Boston the windows and roofs were crowded with 
gazers, and the street was so densely packed that the 
Royal officers with difficulty forced their way along. 
Burgoyne could not help hearing one or two pungent 
remarks, which evidently had been saved up for that 
occasion, and which he took like a man of wit and 
breeding; 2 but there was no vulgar or overt disrespect 
either of voice or gesture. *' Sir," (he afterwards ob- 
served to General Heath,) ** I have been astonished at 
the civility of your people." 

The first sight of the German auxiliaries aroused an 
intense interest in all the townships which lay between 
the Hudson and the Mystic rivers. New England 
children had hitherto fancied them to be as strong and 
ferocious as ogres ; ^ and New England men could not 
forget that every Chasseur and Fusilier had confidently 

^ At one of these gatherings a jocular English subaltern rose from his 
seat, and, pointing to the youth, who on that afternoon was in a worse 
pickle than usual, informed the company, " in a voice and manner as if he 
was Herald at Arms," that this was the Right Honourable Francis 
Napier, of His Majesty's Thirty First Regiment of Foot, Baron of 
Merchiston in the Kingdom of Scotland, Baronet of Nova Scotia, — and a 
good deal else which was less authentic. The women present looked 
very attentively at his Lordship, and one of them threw up her hands and 
exclaimed : " Well ! if that be a Lord, I never desire to see any other 
Lord than the Lord Jehovah." 

'^ Trevelyan's American Revolution ; volume I., pages 299 and 332. 

^ The generation which was still in the nursery during the first years 
of the Revolutionary war had strange traditions about the bulk and 
height, the physical conformation, and the prodigious appetite, of George 
the Third's foreign mercenaries. Among relics which in after days were 
ploughed up in the battle-fields near Bemis's Heights were some human 
teeth of abnormal shape. They were supposed to have belonged to 
Hessians ; for it was popularly believed that many of them had double 
teeth all round both jaws. 


looked forward to supplanting some rich American 
Whig in the enjoyment of his farmstead and his orchard. 
To judge from the talk of Hessians and Anspachers 
on board ship, and in their Canadian barracks, the 
suppression of the rebellion was to be followed by a 
transference of real estate on a scale surpassing any- 
thing which had taken place since the Israelites settled 
themselves down on the soil of Canaan. And now at 
last these dreaded strangers had entered their Promised 
Land, but not to possess it. Their miserable aspect 
excited the contempt, and awakened the compassion, 
of the people whom they had so deeply and wantonly 
injured. A curious account of them was given by a 
lady who witnessed their arrival at Cambridge ; — in 
which town, contiguous to the Port of Boston, our 
army, by a Resolution of the Massachusetts Congress, 
was for the present appointed to be lodged. ** I never," 
she wrote, ** had the least idea that the creation 
produced such a sordid set of creatures in human 
figure ; — poor, dirty, emaciated men ; and great numbers 
of women, who seemed to be beasts of burden, having 
bushel baskets on their backs, by which they were 
bent double. The contents seemed to be pots and 
kettles, various sorts of furniture, and children peeping 
through gridirons and other utensils." They brought 
with them some very young infants who had been born 
on the road ; and the women were barefooted, and 
clothed in dirty rags. Madame Riedesel accompanied 
the line of march in a roomy, but not very sightly, 
vehicle. " My calash," she said, " resembled one of the 
vans in which they carry round wild animals for exliibi- 
tion ; and I was frequently obHged to halt, because the 
people insisted upon seeing the wife of the German 
general and her children. ... I must say that they 
were very friendly, and particularly deHghted at my 
being able to speak to them in English." Once and 
again, indeed, seme rustic host or hostess could not re- 
frain from asking her why her husband came to America 
in order to kill folks who had never harmed him. Such 


an inquiry was regarded as quite permissible by the 
more plain-spoken members of a severely logical people, 
whose descendants, to this hour, have been unable to 
imagine any tenable justification for the interference 
of armed foreigners in a family quarrel between Great 
Britain and her Colonies. 

The chivalry displayed by two at least of the 
Republican generals was in marked contrast with 
the conduct of the politicians. Tidings of a great 
national triumph circulated rapidly upon the wings of 
rumour ; and Americans were already familiar with 
the emotions of victory before they learned that the 
fruit of their success was less complete and abun- 
dant than they had a right to anticipate. A full fort- 
night after the Convention was signed, the confidential 
aide-de-camp of General Gates arrived at the seat of 
government with an official account of all that had 
taken place at Saratoga ; and three more days passed 
before he had put his documents in order, and sub- 
mitted them to the inspection of Congress. An im- 
patient delegate, to the amusement and delight of his 
colleagues, had already made a motion to compliment 
Colonel Wilkmson with a pair of spurs ; and, when the 
papers were distributed to the Members, it became 
evident enough why Gates and his Staff had been in no 
special hurry to let their contents be known. That 
part of the despatch which related to the military op- 
erations showed, beyond all question whatever, that the 
American general had had the British army absolutely 
at his mercy ; while the text of the Convention proved 
him to have been incapable of profiting, as a nego- 
tiator, by the magnificent opportunity which the for- 
tune of war had placed in his grasp. Instead of being 
in permanent custody as prisoners, Burgoyne's troops, 
within ten or twelve weeks at the latest, would find 
themselves once again in Europe at the disposal of the 
British War Office. All his regiments might, and would, 


be employed to garrison Mediterranean fortresses, or 
arsenals and dockyard towns on the Southern coast of 
England ; and an equal number of home battalions 
would thereby be released for active service in Amer- 
ica. Burgoyne, admirably supported by the martial tem- 
per and sterling patriotism of all his principal officers, 
had imposed his own terms, instead of accepting those 
dictated by his adversary. A few months afterwards, 
from his place in the House of Commons, — venturing 
upon one of those old-world literary allusions the dis- 
appearance of which has not been altogether to the ad- 
vantage of Parliamentary debates, — he asserted that his 
own misfortune would never be classed in history with 
the Roman disaster of the Caudine Forks, because, under 
the Treaty of Saratoga, a British army had been saved 
to the State. As far as his own action could influence 
the event, that claim was true to the letter. Policy, (to 
quote the words of Byron in a precisely similar case,) 
regained what arms had lost;^ and Burgoyne, by his 
perspicacity and firmness in the hour of defeat, had 
made an excellent bargain for his country. 

To come off second-best in a bargain has never been 
to the taste of Americans ; but on this occasion their 
national word had been sacredly pledged, and their Gov- 
ernment was under an obligation to abide by it. The 
majority of Congressmen, however, were deaf to the com- 
mands of honour ; and they soon had made up their 
minds to do the wrong thing. There were two ways of 
doing it ; and they chose the worse. They might have 
boldly proclaimed that no servant of the State had power 
to bind the State by an engagement prejudicial to the pub- 
lic interest ; and then they might have repudiated the 
Convention, and made a scapegoat of Horatio Gates. So 
they would have acted if they had had the courage of their 
unscrupulousness ; but Gates was their spoiled child, 
and their chosen instrument for persecuting and displacing 
better soldiers than himself. Intent upon throwing over 

1 Childe Ilarold^s Pilgrimage ; Canto I., stanza 25. 


the Treaty without sacrificing the reputation of the gen- 
eral who made it, they deUberately confused the issue 
by raising a series of petty and vexatious quibbles. They 
made a grievance of the circumstance that the British 
privates, when the muskets were surrendered, did not at 
the same time deliver up the cartridge-boxes and the 
cross-belts ; and they complained that the American War 
Office had not been furnished with a personal description 
of all Burgoyne's non-commissioned officers and men, 
similar to that which appears on the face of a European 

Our own commanders on land and sea, acting in 
perfect good faith, but blundering at every stage of 
the wretched business, lent themselves unintentionally, 
though most effectually, to the sinister designs of Con- 
gress. Lord Howe and his brother were sadly wanting 
in judgment and in energy. Their course was plain 
before them. They should have chartered all the 
merchantmen in New York Bay, supplemented by as 
many royal frigates as the case required, and should 
have despatched them to Boston by the first fair wind, 
in order to carry our troops straight home to England 
before the pettifoggers, who for the moment ruled the 
counsels of America, had time to pick holes in the text 
of the Convention. But Sir William Howe wasted 
several months parleying with Congress for permis- 
sion to effect the embarkation from a port in British 
possession, instead of from Boston harbour. This pro- 
posal, pertinaciously urged, and directly contrary to the 
express terms of the agreement, roused even in just- 
minded Americans a suspicion that, if once General 
Howe got General Burgoyne's soldiers within the 
British lines, he would incorporate them in his own 
army, and would never allow them to embark at all. 
The final and irreparable mistake was made by Bur- 
goyne himself. Under the Seventh Clause, our officers 
were all to be quartered " according to their rank." 
General Heath, who commanded in Massachusetts, 
exerted himself honestly and strenuously to procure 


them fitting accommodation ;i but the resources of the 
community were limited, and some of our people were 
at first uncomfortably lodged. Burgoyne remonstrated 
in the too emphatic language which so often gushed 
from his pen. He especially called the attention of 
General Gates to the over-crowding of English offi- 
cers, and declared roundly that *' the public faith was 
broke." This most unfortunate expression provided the 
party leaders in Congress with the excuse for which 
they had long been searching. On the eighth of 
January, 1778, it was solemnly voted that the phrase, 
which the British general had used in his letter, 
afforded a just ground for fear lest he should avail 
himself of *' such pretended breach of the Convention " 
in order to disengage himself and his army from the 
obligations they were under to the United States ; and 
it was accordingly resolved that *' the embarkation of 
Lieutenant General Burgoyne, and the troops under his 
command, be suspended till a distinct and explicit rati- 
fication of the Convention of Saratoga shall be properly 
notified by the Court of Great Britain to Congress." 

Burgoyne, dismayed and repentant, protested against 
the unfair construction which had been placed on his 
hasty and ill-considered words.^ But Congress was 
inexorable. When the fleet of transports from New 
York at length appeared off the Massachusetts coast 
they were not admitted within the forts which protected 

1 During the first three weeks of November, Heath's published cor- 
respondence turned almost entirely on the provision of quarters in the 
town of Cambridge for Burgoyne's army. On the eleventh of the month 
he wrote to the Council of Massachusetts : "The honor of the State is 
in danger ; the publick faith responsible ; circumstances will no longer 
admit of delay ; decisive measures must immediately be adopted ; and I 
cann(;t conceive of any so effectual as the appropriation of at least one of 
the Colleges." The building was taken over, and a fair rent paid to the 
Harvard College authorities. 

2 " General Burgoyne and his officers appear much disappointed, and 
exhibit an appearance rather of concern and uneasiness than of sulkiness 
or resentment, and endeavour to palliate their former expressions and 
conduct." William Heath to Henry Laurens; Head Quarters, Boston ; 
Feb. 7, 1778. 


the entrance to Boston harbour. The British Ministers 
hastened to announce themselves as willing to ratify 
the Treaty, and repeatedly called upon the American 
Government to fulfil its part of the covenant ; but the 
Republican authorities took no notice whatever of the 
reminders and expostulations which reached them from 
Downing Street. The Convention Troops, (for such 
was now the official designation of Burgoyne's army,) 
were transplanted from Cambridge to a remote inland 
town south of the Potomac, where the faciHties for deser- 
tion were very great, and to many British soldiers 
quite irresistible. More than one of the State Govern- 
ments took measures to seduce our rank and file from 
their allegiance, and attract them into the Revolu- 
tionary army ; — an ignoble expedient against which 
George Washington indignantly, and even passionately, 
remonstrated.^ The American recruiting agents had 
very little success with the Germans, who were per- 
fectly happy in captivity, and who had no desire to 
fight either for, or against. King George so long as they 
could draw his money. They lived for the present in 
a sort of financial Paradise. Without being harassed 
by drill, or fatigued by marches, or exposed as a mark 
for bullets, they were earning four times the regimental 
pay that they would have received in their own Father- 
land ; and those of them who practised handicrafts 
were permitted to go round the neighbourhood, work- 
ing for the exceptionally high wages which skilled la- 
bour commanded in the United States. The leaders of 
Congress, from first to last, persisted in behaving as if 
the Saratoga Treaty was a spurious, or a non-existent, 

1 " It gives me inexpressible concern," wrote Washington, " to have 
repeated information, from the best authority, that the Committees of the 
different towns and districts in your State hire deserters from General 
Burgoyne's army, and employ them as substitutes, to excuse personal 
service of the inhabitants. I need not enlarge upon the danger of sub- 
stituting, as soldiers, men who have given glaring proof of a treacherous 
disposition, and who are bound to us by no motives of attachment, 
instead of citizens, in whom the ties of country, kindred, and sometimes 
property, are so many securities for their fidelity." Washington to the 
President of the Council of Massachusetts ; Valley Forge, March 17, 1778. 


document. They calmly proceeded to exchange Bur 
goyne's officers, who were extremely impatient to get 
back to England, against American prisoners of equiv- 
alent rank ; but otherwise none of the Convention 
Troops were restored to their native countries until the 
war was over. So late as May 1780 more than fifteen 
hundred of General Riedesel's Brunswickers still re- 
mained under detention, or on parole, within the borders 
of Virginia. 

The Americans had another strong motive for ignor- 
ing the promise which had been made in their name. 
Before the end of i J J J it was all but certain that France 
would soon be at war with England on their behalf ; 
and, under the terms of the Saratoga Convention, Bur- 
goyne's troops might legitimately be employed against 
the French in the East and West Indies, or on the 
coasts of Normandy and Brittany. It would be no 
small relief to the Ministry at Versailles if General 
Phillips's gunners, and the Light Infantry of Lord Bal- 
carres, were retained under lock and key as long as the 
war lasted ; and the statesmen of Congress could not 
resist the temptation of doing a good turn, at the cost 
of their consciences, to their very obhging and open- 
handed ally. John Adams, who arrived in Paris early 
in April 1778, carried specific instructions to be before- 
hand with George the Third's agents in giving his own 
version of what was at best an equivocal story. ^ Adams, 
accordingly, seized the first opportunity of waiting upon 
the Comte de Vergennes, who was Louis the Sixteenth's 
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and communicated to 
him " the Resolutions of Congress respecting the sus- 
pension of Burgoyne's embarkation," which the French- 
man read through, and pronounced to he fort bonnes? 
With that solitary tribute of approbation, proceeding 

^ " I have it exceedingly at heart, from a persuasion of the rectitude 
and justifiableness of the measures, to be in the van of the British 
Ministry and their emissaries at every court of Europe." Henry Laupens, 
the President of Congress, to John Adams ; Yorktown 22 January, 1778. 

2 Adams's Diary for April 1 1, 1778. 


from a quarter which was neither unprejudiced not 
disinterested, Americans, then and thereafter, had to be 
contented. Their true friends and sincere well-wishers, 
in all countries and in every generation, would give 
much if those unseemly pages could be expunged from 
their history. The ablest among the contemporary 
English chroniclers, and the most favourable to their 
cause, recorded his profound regret that they had so 
widely departed from the system of fairness, equity, and 
good faith which had hitherto guided their actions, and 
which was particularly essential to the reputation of a 
new State ; ^ and his opinion has been shared by all 
careful and responsible writers from his day to ours. 
The young republic had adopted a line of conduct 
which ranked it, in strange and uncongenial company, 
below the moral level of civilised and self-respecting 
nations. In June and July 1808 our own Parliament 
and people loyally adhered to the Convention of 
Cintra, which restored to the Emperor Napoleon, at 
a critical moment of an internecine struggle, five and 
twenty thousand splendid troops every man of whom, 
in the estimation of the British public, might and should 
have been kept as prisoners of war in British hands. 
During the same months, in the same year, the semi- 
barbarous Junta of Seville deliberately set at nought 
the stipulations of the Convention of Baylen ; and in 
1799 the despicable South Italian Bourbons, in their 
thirst for vengeance, refused to observe the terms of 
surrender which had been granted to the garrisons of 
the Neapolitan citadels. The odious cruelty, which 
accompanied and aggravated these infringements of 
public faith, had no parallel in the treatment of Bur- 
goyne and his army ; but none the less, when every 
allowance has been made, and all excuses have been 
impartially considered, the violation of the Saratoga 
Treaty remains as a blot on the lustre of the American 

* " History of Europe " in the Annual Register of 1 778 ; Chapter 10. 



When Sir William Howe, towards the close of June 
1777, retreated from in front of Washington's impreg- 
nable position at Middlebrook, and ferried his troops 
back to Staten Island, the exultation in America rivalled, 
and even outstripped, the dissatisfaction which the news 
aroused in England. A powerful foe had for the third 
time been expelled from the main land ; New Jersey 
was again clear of invaders ; and most of the Con- 
tinental generals who had taken part in that short and 
prosperous campaign were inspired by a comfortable 
belief that their arms were irresistible. Some very 
strong heads were fairly turned. Nathanael Greene, 
indeed, had taken to heart, once and for ever, the lesson 
which he learned when Fort Washington fell ; ^ but an- 
other admirable soldier abandoned himself to a fit of over- 
confidence which in his case was terribly premature. 

Anthony Wayne had always been eager to serve 
under the eye of the Commander-in-Chief ; and his 
wish was at last gratified. He now commanded one 
of Washington's divisions with the rank of brigadier ; 
a position from which he was not promoted until long 
after the time when, by a series of rude combats and 
memorable exploits, he had won his place among the 
foremost champions in the struggle for American Inde- 
pendence. He never complained of being ill-treated by 
Congress. There was no room in his mind for dis- 

1 " I feel mad, vexerl, sick, and sorry." Thus Greene wrote to Knox 
on the day after that grievous disaster. lie never again discounted suc- 
cess beforehand. 

VOL. rv. 209 p 


appointed ambition or wounded vanity ; for his soul 
was aglow with the fire of patriotism and the ardour 
of self-sacrifice, and he was intensely happy in the 
pursuit of a calling which was the absorbing passion of 
his life.^ In early youth he had been desirous to enter 
the Royal Army. But a commission in a marching 
regiment, to his father's judgment, seemed a very poor 
livelihood for a colonist with no family or political 
claims on the favour of the British War Office ; and 
so Anthony Wayne imitated the example of George 
Washington, and became a land-surveyor. His work 
lay far out to the West, in front of the advancing zone 
of civilisation ; and the hardships and adventures of 
the wilderness, together with the accurate and com- 
prehensive observation of natural objects which his 
business demanded, trained him for the work of a 
general at least as effectually as if he had been kicking 
his heels in an English or an Irish garrison town. 
Wayne was thirty years old when the fighting began ; 
and he at once threw up a profession in which he was 
making money fast, raised a battalion of infantry, and 
was appointed its colonel. He tried to teach himself 
the art of war out of very old books ; and he had a 
strong, and vehemently expressed, predilection for the 
old methods. Anthony Wayne loved to see troops smart 
and tidy even under the most adverse circumstances.^ 
He frankly acknowledged that he had '* an insuperable 

^ Major General Anthony Wayne, and the Pennsylvanian Line in the 
Continental Army ; by Charles J. Stille, President of the Historical 
Society in Pennsylvania : Chapter i. Wayne's schoolmaster, who was 
likewise his uncle, wrote thus to his father : " What he may be best 
qualified for I know not. He may perhaps make a soldier. He has 
already distracted the brains of the boys under my charge by rehearsals 
of battles and sieges. During noon, in place of the usual games and 
amusements, he has the boys employed in throwing up redoubts." 

2 In July 1776 Wayne appointed a barber to each company in his 
regiment for the purpose of shaving the privates, and dressing their hair ; 
and that order was issued when his soldiers had /ust returned, starved 
and almost naked, from a frightful campaign in Canada, having lost, (as 
has been truly said,) " almost everything belonging to them except their 
hair and their beards." 


bias '* in favour of an elegant uniform and a martial 
bearing, and that he would prefer to take his men under 
fire neatly clothed and well set up, with bayonets fixed 
and a single charge of ammunition, rather than lead 
them into action shabby and dirty, with rifles and full 
powder horns. His implicit belief in the bayonet was 
soon to receive an uq welcome, and indeed a tragical, 

Wayne had recently been engaged in an aggressive 
operation on a small scale, which was vigorously, con- 
ducted, and had resulted in success. He was now in 
tearing spirits ; and he joyfully prognosticated, in letters 
to his friends, that it would be a long while before 
seven hundred English infantry would again venture 
to face five hundred of his own Pennsylvanians. 
Washington was not responsible for the contents of 
all the post-bags which left his camp ; and, when 
the Royal army retired from New Jersey, he was 
very far from sharing the triumphant exhilaration with 
which some among his principal lieutenants viewed the 
backs of their departing adversaries. The July and 
August of 1777 were among the most anxious months 
in George Washington's perplexed and hazardous exist- 
ence. He had learned from his spies that the British 
transports were being fitted with horse-boxes, and stored 
with water, forage, and provisions for a month's voyage ; 
and the purport of that voyage was still enveloped in 
a fog of mystery which, up to this time, had very seldom 
enshrouded Sir William Howe's strategical secrets. The 
expedition might be destined for an attack upon Charles- 
ton, or Boston, or (still more probably) upon Phila- 
delphia ; but Washington, who, in a case of doubt, 
always credited his opponent with the most sane and 
rational intentions, could not divest himself of a sus- 
picion that the British general was getting ready to sail 
up the Hudson River in the direction of Albany. The 
American army was accordingly moved north towards 
Peekskill and the New York Highlands, in order to 
prevent the junction of Howe and Burgoyne, and so 



rescue Schuyler from what otherwise would be inevi- 
table destruction. The situation, (to use Washington's 
own words,) was truly delicate and embarrassing. In 
half a score of letters he described the uncertainties 
which beset him as distressing beyond measure, and 
intricate out of all comprehension ; and, though he 
spared his troops as much as possible, he admitted 
with regret that they were harassed by marching and 
countermarching to an extent which was almost unen- 

By the end of the third week in July all but forty 
ships, of an immense British fleet, had dropped down 
from New York City, and were lying in the Narrows at 
the entrance of the Bay. Three days afterwards they 
put out to sea ; and on the last of the month Washington 
was informed that more than two hundred sail had 
appeared in the estuary of the Delaware with the 
obvious intention of going up the river, and assaulting 
Philadelphia. He himself, in advance of his army, was 
already well on his way towards that city when he was 
encountered by the astounding intelligence that the 
British vessels were no longer between the Capes of the 
Delaware. After a stay of four and twenty hours they 
had turned their bowsprits eastwards, and, with a fair 
wind behind them, had once more vanished into the 
illimitable. This surprising event, (as Washington 
called it,) completed the mystification of that much 
vexed general ; and he determined to stay his hand 
until some clearer light was thrown upon the insoluble 
problem of Sir William Howe's plan of action. " The 
fatigue and injury," (so he told his brother,) " which 
men must sustain by long marches in such extreme 

^ Washington to the President of Congress, Camp at Middlebrook, 
July 2, 1777; to Major General Armstrong, Morristown, 4 July; to 
Governor Cooke, July 7 ; to the President of Congress, July 10 ; to Major 
General Schuyler, Eleven Miles within the Clove, July 22 ; to Governor 
Trumbull, Philadelphia, August 4 ; and a letter to John Augustine 
Washington, which reviews the events of the preceding five weeks, 
written on the fifteenth of August. 


heat as we have felt for the last five days must keep us 
quiet till we hear something of the destination of the 
enemy." Washington quartered his troops in some 
pleasant meadows which bordered the cool and limpid 
stream of the Neshaminy, just twenty miles to the 
North of Philadelphia ; and there he possessed his soul 
in such patience as he was able to command. The 
omens were harder to interpret than ever ; but, upon 
the whole, he inclined to the belief that Sir William 
Howe's cruise to the mouth of the Delaware was a feint 
made for the purpose of drawing the American army 
away from Albany, and that he now had doubled 
back to the assistance of Burgoyne.^ This, at best, 
would have been a complicated, and a very precarious, 
stratagem ; but it was infinitely less eccentric than the 
movement which the British Commander-in-Chief had 
in reality adopted.^ 

After the interval of a fortnight the royal fleet re- 
appeared — not outside Boston Harbour ; not at Sandy 
Hook ; not once again in the Delaware River ; but at the 
entrance to Chesapeake Bay, ninety leagues down the 
coast from New York. Ten more days were consumed 
in slowly and painfully ascending the interminable gulf ; 
and at last, on the twenty-fifth of August, the Royal 
army was put ashore at the Head of Elk in the State 
of Maryland, at a point ten miles more distant from Phila- 
delphia than it had reached in the previous December ; 
only ten miles nearer that city than the spot from which 
it had retreated in June ; and exactly thirteen miles 
across country from the port of Newcastle on the Dela- 
ware River, where Sir William Howe might, with perfect 

^Washington to Major General Putnam, August i, 1777; to John 
Augustine Washington, August 5 ; to Putnam again, August 5. 

^ This total disappearance of the Royal army, for the space of three 
summer weeks, was most tantalising to all the newsmongers. "The 
Howes," wrote Horace Walpole, "are gone the Lord knows whither, and 
have carried the American war with them, so there is nothing to say on 
that head ; which is a great drawback cm correspondence in the shooting 
season.'^ Walpole to the Countess of Ossory : Sept. 29, 1777. 


facility, have landed his whole force before the close of 
July.^ In order to obtain this infinitesimal result the 
British general had squandered a whole month of price- 
less hours in the very heart of the military season. He 
had prolonged his voyage by three hundred and fifty 
unnecessary miles, exposing to the risks of the ocean his 
unwieldy crowd of thirteen score vessels;'^ and demora- 
lising his soldiers, on the eve of a critical campaign, by 
a protracted spell of idleness and relaxed discipline, 
aggravated by much distress and discomfort. They had 
endured one night of tempest, and enough foul weather 
to make the most of them sea-sick ; but generally 
speaking the wind was dead, and the heat almost in- 
supportable. The ponderous armada, for long spaces 
of time together, moved at the rate of a knot an hour ; 
and row-boats went about from ship to ship in quest 
of fresh provisions, or a few butts of drinkable water. 
For the supply in the tanks soon ran low, and became 
most offensive to taste and smell ; the men had to be 
put on very short allowance ; and great numbers of 
horses were thrown overboard as a humane alternative 
to letting them perish of thirst. The fierce sun, which 
had been very trying even on the open sea, was almost 
intolerable on the close waters of Chesapeake Bay. Our 
troops sate all day on deck, packed betv/een the bul- 
warks under the scorching rays ; for the cabins were as 
stifling and fetid as the hold of a West Indian slaver. 
But they did not need pity so much as the brave English- 
men who, in the far-off region of Lake Champlain and 

^ The course, and the length, of Howe's digression are illustrated by 
an outline map of the sea-coast to the south of New York, which is 
enclosed in a corner of the larger map at the end of this volume. 

2 A full and authentic narrative of the expedition exists in the journal 
of Captain John Montresor, the Chief Engineer of Sir William Howe's 
army. Captain Montresor put the total number of British vessels at 
two hundred and sixty-six. American spectators counted two hundred 
and twenty ships as the fleet went past Annapolis, nearly three quarters 
of the way up the gulf of the Chesapeake. By that time the worst 
sailers, — and many were very bad, — had been left far out of sight to the 


the upper Hudson, looked wistfully for the help which 
failed to come. In the last third of August matters 
had begun to go badly with Burgoyne ; and his staff 
officers were already straining their ears to catch the 
sound of Howe's cannon while that strange comrade, 
after eight and twenty days' sail in the wrong direction, 
was fighting the tides by day, and lying at anchor by 
night, four hundred and fifty miles away among the 
mud-banks of Virginia. 

Howe was deeply to blame ; but another great man 
had been concerned in the business whose negligence 
and folly were nothing less than criminal. When Lord 
George Germaine had planned a combined movement 
against Albany from three remote quarters, he should 
have sent precise and minute directions to all the three 
commanders, and especially to that general whose 
army was twice as large as the two other columns 
together. But, as a matter of fact. Sir William Howe 
never received any definite orders at all. He had not 
been consulted about the proposed invasion from 
Canada ; he had always disapproved of it ; and he had 
dutifully kept Germaine informed of his own intentions 
to attack Philadelphia by sea. On the twenty-sixth of 
March the London War Office transmitted to him a 
copy of the letter of instructions addressed to Governor 
Carleton and General Burgoyne ; and that letter con- 
tained a sentence to the effect that the Secretary of 
State would communicate with Sir William Howe by 
the next packet. No such communication ever reached 
Howe ; but nearly two months afterwards, on the 
eighteenth of May, Germaine wrote to him at great 
length, acquiescing in the expedition to Philadelphia, 
and incidentally expressing a vague hope that his 
Pennsylvanian campaign might be concluded in time 
for him to co-operate with the army which was moving 
south from Canada. When that despatch at length over- 
took Sir William Howe, he was already in Chesapeake 
Bay. That was a sample of the vigilance and the 
punctuality which Lord George Germaine, sitting in 


William Pitt's old office-chair, applied to the work of 
organising victory in America.^ 

There is reason to believe that some words of advice 
had lately reached the British General from a very sin- 
gular quarter. General Charles Lee was still a prisoner 
at New York, in strict custody. Eager to curry favour 
with his captors, he appears to have laid before Sir 
William Howe and his brother a memorial suggesting an 
armed occupation of the Central Colonies, and assuring 
them, from his own certain knowledge, that Marylanders 
and Pennsylvanians were nearly all Tories at heart, and 
would flock in crowds to the Royal standard as soon as 
it was planted within their borders. The invasion of 
Pennsylvania may have been recommended by Lee, 
and it undoubtedly was sanctioned by Germaine ; but 
Howe's notion of approaching Philadelphia by the Bay 
of Chesapeake, when he had already come within a few 
miles of it by the Bay of Delaware, was entirely his 
own ; and it has furnished military critics with his 
measure as a strategist. 

However circuitous had been his journey, and 
however many weeks he might have spent upon the 
way. Sir William Howe was on the spot at last. His 
presence at the Head of Elk was an untoward 
phenomenon in the eyes of George Washington. A 
larger force of British infantry than had contended 
at Dettingen, — gallant and well-equipped veterans who 
in the course of this war had gained several victories, 
and had never yet been worsted in a general engagement, 

1 An explanation of Lord George's silence is now in some of the 
histories ; but it should be received with caution, if not with incredulity. 
It is stated that a letter, giving Sir William Howe positive and explicit 
orders to co-operate with Burgoyne, had been drafted in the English War 
Office at the end of March ; but that Germaine went out of town before it 
was fair-copied, and forgot to sign and send it. To anyone who has had 
charge of a public department, — with Permanent Secretaries, and Private 
Secretaries, to keep him in mind of his duties, — the story is unbelievable. 
It has its origin in a private memoir by Lord Shelburne ; but Lord 
Shelburne, when jotting down reminiscences in the seclusion of his study, 
was no safe authority for anecdotes reflecting upon the public men of his 
own time. 


— stood within five days' march of the capital of the 
Confederacy. They were commanded by a leader whose 
reputation would be hopelessly ruined unless on this 
occasion he fought the war to an end ; and who, though 
ill quaHfied to direct the abstruse operations of an exten- 
sive campaign, had never failed, when in actual contact 
with an enemy, to handle his troops with skill and cool- 
ness, and with a dogged resolution which would accept 
of no denial. Howe, moreover, was in stronger force 
than his adversary. Washington, who some months 
previously sent two of his best brigades to the assistance 
of Schuyler, within the last week had deprived himself 
of Colonel Morgan's invaluable corps of riflemen in order 
to strengthen General Gates for the final and decisive 
struggle at Saratoga. An attempt had been made to 
fill the void in the ranks of the main Repubhcan army 
by calling out the militia of Maryland and Pennsylvania. 
But those States were less than half-hearted in the cause 
of the Revolution, and only ten or twelve hundred of 
their sons appeared under arms in the camp on the 
Neshaminy ; — a humbling contrast to the multitude 
of New Englanders who were mustering at Stillwater 
to oppose Burgoyne. Washington could put in line just 
eleven thousand Americans against seventeen thousand 
of the best soldiers in Europe. And yet, however 
unequal might be the odds and poor the chances, he 
was determined not to surrender Philadelphia without 
a battle. He instinctively felt that so open a confession 
of inferiority, — made at the very outset of the Penn- 
sylvanian campaign, and with Burgoyne still unbeaten 
in the North, — would damp the spirit of the rebellion, 
and bring about, in all Hkelihood, a total collapse of 
the national resistance. 

Washington, nearly a week after date, received intelli- 
gence that the British fleet had been seen in Chesa- 
peake Bay. He at once set his troops in motion ; and the 
very next evening he encamped five miles to the north- 
ward of Philadelphia. On Sunday the twenty-fourth 
of August he held what in that poverty-stricken army 


passed for a dress-parade, and marched his whole force 
through the main avenues of the city. His men had long 
ago walked through their boot-soles. Their clothes were 
parti-coloured, and discoloured, and for the most part 
in rags and tatters ; and the least badly dressed among 
them were those who wore the hunting-shirt of brown 
linen. ^ It was remarked that they did not step in time, 
nor hold their heads erect, nor cock their hats at one and 
the same angle. But they had secured a certain amount 
of uniformity by decking themselves with green boughs; 
the horses were in fine condition, fresh from a fort- 
night's rest in luxuriant pastures ; the drums and fifes 
did their utmost ; and the Stars and Stripes on the 
regimental flags were, to many of the spectators, a new 
and deeply interesting sight. The crowd cheered lustily 
as the long column passed down Front Street and up 
Chestnut Street, — a swaying mass all alive with rustling 
foliage and gUttering gun-barrels, and nobly headed by 
George Washington on his most stately charger. At 
his side rode a French nobleman who had already 
seen enough of American infantry to pronounce them 
fine and warlike troops, commanded by officers of zeal 
and courage.^ He was no bad judge of a soldier; 
for ever since the age of fifteen he had been a Black 
Musketeer of King Louis's household. 

That dreary period of suspense, through which 
Washington of late was passing, had been lighted up 
for him by one bright and very memorable episode. 
The Marquis de Lafayette was a conspicuous member of 
the rising generation in France. He was a typical aristo- 
crat, bred up under the usual conditions, and endowed 
with all the real or supposed advantages, of his class. 
He had six Christian names, of which the first was Marie. 
As a matter of course he was a soldier, and had been 
married while still a boy to a mere child, — a daughter 
of the Due d' Ayen, the head of the house of de Noailles ; 
but, (which was by no means a matter of course,) he 

1 Memoires de ma main ; jusqu'en Vannee 1780, du General Lafayette, 
^ Lafayette's Memoires. 


dearly loved both his wife and his profession. The 
youthful couple had been in high favour with Madame 
du Barry during the last months of her sway ; and, when 
Marie Antoinette became Queen, they were among the 
chosen few who, to the intense jealousy of the excluded 
and the uninitiated, were admitted to the private 
theatricals, and the fancy-dress quadrilles, which were 
the pastimes of the royal household. But now, at 
the age of nineteen, Lafayette was a stern Republican, 
and on that account only the more popular in a society 
prone to amuse itself with abstract opinions, the 
portentous and inevitable consequences of which were 
less distant than the triflers, or even the philosophers 
and the statesmen, could then foresee. The Declara- 
tion of American Independence roused him like a call 
to boot and saddle. Here at length was a republic, 
which from across the ocean looked as pure and austere 
as the Rome of Fabricius or Camillus ; and Lafayette 
slept on thorns until he could place at the disposal of 
the sacred cause his military skill and valour, and, 
(a much rarer commodity in the American Confederacy,) 
his abundance of hard cash. His project soon became 
known in the upper circles both of France and England, 
which then were in close and habitual contact. All 
Paris was discussing the " young courtier, with a pretty 
wife, a small family, and an income of fifty thousand 
crowns a year," ^ who was abandoning the first two, 
and taking with him as much of the last as he could 
scrape together, in order to go to the assistance of the 
American insurgents. Madame du Deffand duly im- 
parted to Horace Walpole the romantic story, which 
she regarded as the most interesting news of the day. 
" Of course," she said, " it is a piece of folly ; but it 
does him no discredit. He receives more praise than 
blame." "We talk chiefly," (so Gibbon wrote from 
London,) "■ of the Marquis de la Fayette. He is about 
twenty, with 130,000 Livres a year; the nephew of 

^ The Chevalier de Marais to his mother in the country. The letti r 
is quoted in The Life of General Lafayette^ by Bayard Tuckerman. 


Noailles, who is ambassador here. He has bought the 
Duke of Kingston's yacht, and is gone to join the 
Americans. The Court appears to be angry with 

No one was really angry with him ; for he was as 
good a fellow as Charles Fox, beneath a modest, and 
even embarrassed, demeanour which conciliated far 
more than it repelled. Marie Antoinette was person- 
ally very fond of the English ; ^ but, with an inconsis- 
tency pardonable to a royal beauty of one-and-twenty, 
she took a warm interest in Lafayette and his fortunes. 
Everybody wished well to his enterprise, but every- 
body was afraid that he never would come back alive ; 
for the men of his race had seldom died old, or else- 
where than on the field of battle.^ He consulted the 
Comte de Broglie ; and the old warrior tried to turn 
him from his purpose in pathetic language. *'I saw 
your uncle," (he said,) " fall in the Italian wars. I was 
present when your father was killed at Minden ; and 
I will not have on my conscience the destruction of the 
only branch which remains to the family." But, before 
the interview was at an end, de Broglie had not only 
promised to guard the young man's secret, but had 
agreed to put him in relations with Baron de Kalb, an 
officer of advanced years, who knew the American 
colonies of old and who could speak English well. In 
the early spring of 1777 Lafayette, as a blind, paid a 
visit to his wife's uncle, the French Ambassador in 
London. He danced at a ball given by Lord George 
Germaine, and was introduced to Lord Rawdon and Sir 
Henry Clinton, who had come back from New York for 
a winter's pleasure in the interval between two cam- 
paigns. But he made no attempt to disguise his 

^ Gibbon to Holroyd ; April 12, 1777. 

2 " I hear Lady Stormont is a great favourite at Paris. The Queen 
pays her every possible respect, and has made a very fine ball for her ; 
but the English are the greatest favourites she has." Letter from Lady 
Knight to Mrs. Drake ; Toulouse, October 6, 1776. 

^ •' Les Lafayette etaient reputes pour tomber tous sur les champs 
de bataille, et de bonne heure." Doniol, Vol. I., page 654. 


sympathy with the American rebels ; and, attentive to 
the dictates of honour, he decHned an invitation given 
by King George himself to inspect the military and 
naval preparations that were in progress at Portsmouth. 

Meanwhile a ship had been secured for him, over the 
purchase and outfit of which he was horribly cheated ; 
for in his eagerness to depart he set his name without 
examination to any and every paper that was placed 
before him. His worst difficulties began after his 
return from England ; for Lord Stormont, our ambas- 
sador at Paris, remonstrated sharply ; and the French 
government intimated to the Due d'Ayen that he 
would do well to apply for a lettre de cachet^ and to 
carry off his son-in-law on a protracted family tour in 
Italy. Lafayette eloped to the coast in disguise, after 
a series of curious adventures and hair-breadth escapes 
like those which, half a generation afterwards, befell 
the unhappy aristocrats who were flying from the 
guillotine ; ^ and before the close of April he stood out 
to sea in his slow and ill-supplied vessel, with Baron de 
Kalb, and ten or twelve other officers, on board. They 
suffered greatly from the rolling and tossing, from 
bad eating and drinking, and from fear of the British 
cruisers. Lafayette, who got well sooner than his 
companions, employed the immense leisure of ocean 
travel in studying English, and reading military books, 
in order to qualify himself for being a Major General, — 
a rank which he regarded as "a brevet of immortality." ^ 
On the fifty-fourth day after leaving Europe he touched 
land at the mouth of a river in South Carolina, about 
twenty leagues to the North of Charleston. 

The party reached Philadelphia on the twenty- 
seventh July, after a tedious, and exceedingly expensive, 
journey of six hundred miles through a country which 

1 Lafayette, in the dress of a courier, rode ahead of the post-chaise, 
and orrlered relays of horses. He slept on straw in the stables ; and he 
was recwgnised by an innkeeper's dau;;hter, whose motith he closed l)y a 
warning gesture. 

2 A Madame Lafayette j a bord de la Victoire, ce 30 Mai, 1777. 


the others thought unattractive and barbarous, but 
which everywhere presented itself to Lafayette's fancy 
as an enchanted land. Franklin and Deane had 
despatched from France a letter informing Congress 
that a nobleman of great wealth had bought a ship, 
and had started across the Atlantic to take service in 
the American army ; that he was extremely beloved 
in his own country ; and that any compliment which 
could be paid him would be pleasing, not only to his 
powerful relations and to the Court, but to the whole 
French nation.^ That letter, however, had not yet 
come to hand; and, — while the coffee-houses in Paris 
were echoing with Lafayette's name, and the theatres 
were vociferously applauding any passage which could 
be construed into an allusion to his expedition, — he 
and his comrades met with a chilling and humiliating 
reception in Philadelphia. Congress made them wait 
in the street while a delegate was fetched who spoke 
their language, and who was kept near at hand for the 
express purpose of sending foreign officers about their 
business. This gentleman indicated to them, in very 
intelligible French, that they were a parcel of adven- 
turers, and that Philadelphia contained far too many 
of their sort already .^ 

Lafayette restrained his temper, and drew up a 
short note glancing at the sacrifices which he had 
made for the American cause. He claimed nothing 
in return, except the right of serving that cause at 
his own expense, and in the character of a volunteer. 
Congress, impressed by his proud and quiet tone, and 
acknowledging him as a very uncommon specimen of the 
foreign mercenary, nominated him an unattached Major 
General without command, and without pay ; but the 

^ Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane to the Committee of Foreign 
Affairs; Paris, May 25, 1777. Wharton's Diplomatic Correspondence; 
Vol. II., page 322. 

2 An exceedingly amusing account of these proceedings may be found 
in the Memoir of a French officer in Lafayette's train, which was men- 
tioned in the second chapter of this volume. 


rest of his followers, with the exception of Baron de 
Kalb, were sent back to France at the cost of the 
American Treasury.^ A few days afterwards Lafayette 
met Washington at a public banquet, and recognised 
him " among a throng of officers and civilians by the 
majesty of his stature and his countenance." ^ The 
young French courtier was now at last in the presence 
of a real king. Washington received him graciously, 
bade him welcome to America, and invited him to 
become one of his military family if he could put up 
with very much worse dinners than those to which 
he had been accustomed at Versailles. That was the 
commencement of a lifelong friendship. Lafayette 
made Washington his hero and his model ; and 
Washington soon came to regard Lafayette as that 
which Nature had denied him, — a son.^ History has 
seldom had to tell of a more honourable connection 
between two men more unselfishly devoted to great 

On the twenty-fifth of August, 1777, the British 
began to disembark in the northeast corner of Mary- 
land. It was no easy matter. The upper reaches of 
Chesapeake Bay were intricate and perilous even for 
single ships ; and the navigation of those waters was 
believed by the RepubHcan authorities in Philadelphia 
to be impossible for a convoy of two hundred transports, 
with at least the average proportion of inexpert and 

1 In the French Officer's Memoir the American names are sometimes 
quite unrecognisable. " Monsieur de Canoite " undoubtedly stands for 
"Conway;" but " le sieur Moose, membre de Congrois," most certainly 
cannot be identitied among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 
He possibly was Robert Morris. 

2 Lafayette's Memoirs. 

^General Matthieu Dumas relates how, in the autumn of 1780, 
\Vashingt(m paid a visit to Rochambeau's headquarters accompaniecl by 
the principal members of his staff. " I was particularly impressed," 
Dumas wrote, " by the marks of affection which the General displayed 
for his pupil, and son of adoption, the Marquis de Lafayette. He 
watched him with complacency as they sat opposite each other at table, 
and listened to all he said with visible interest." 


unhandy skippers. The Elk River itself was full of 
shoals and sandbanks ; but Lord Howe took personal 
charge of the operation, and expended upon it that 
minute and systematic energy which he threw into 
every professional act of his protracted, and deservedly 
successful, career. Boats were carefully stationed to 
mark out the points of danger ; the larger vessels 
ploughed a channel through the muddy bar; and the 
Admiral's flag-ship, for the time being, was always the 
man-of-war which had made its way farthest to the front.^ 
Before dark on the twenty-sixth every soldier, field- 
piece, and waggon had been safely landed ; and orders 
were issued to march at three in the morning on the 
morrow. But that very night it turned to rain, and 
continued raining for six and thirty hours. The roads 
were reported to be impassable for such of the famished 
horses as had survived that dreadful voyage; and 
all the biscuits and cartridges, served out to the troops, 
were spoiled in the pouches. The Guards alone lost 
sixteen thousand rounds of ammunition. Moreover 
the conduct of affairs had passed, from the brother 
who subdued difficulties, to the brother who, too often, 
made them an excuse for supineness and delay. Not 
before the third of September did the Royal troops 
commence their march ; and during the next seven 
days they advanced just ten miles. 

Sir William Howe was encountered from the very out- 
set by a grave disappointment. He had come a hundred 
and twenty leagues out of his road in order to open the 
campaign in a region where the population was sup- 
posed to be exceptionally loyal; but on his arrival he 
nowhere found anything except lukewarmness and 
suspicion, while in most localities he met with nobody 
at all. He had put out an offer of protection to the 
peaceably disposed subjects of his Majesty in the 
Colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania; but the ex- 

1 "The Admiral performed the different parts of a commander, inferior 
officer, and pilot with his usual ability and perseverance." Annual Register 
for 1777. 


periences of the preceding winter in New Jersey had 
taught the people of every province in the Confederacy 
what such a proclamation was worth. The most com- 
mon political sentiment in all the districts which lay 
along the west bank of the Delaware River was an im- 
partial desire to be left alone by both political parties ; 
and farmers were equally afraid of being plundered by 
the Hessians, and of being persecuted as Loyalists by 
the Republican committees after the Royal army had 
retired from their neighbourhood. *'The inhabitants," 
wrote Richard Fitzpatrick, "are almost all fled from 
their houses, and have driven their cattle with them : 
so we do not live very luxuriously, though in a country 
that has every appearance of plenty, and is more beauti- 
ful than can be conceived wherever the woods are at all 
cleared." ^ 

Washington meanwhile, on his own element, was as 
busy as Admiral Howe among the shallows of Chesa- 
peake Bay. He stayed on at Elk Town after the Royal 
ships were already well within the Elk River, packing 
off the public stores ; and seeing that granaries were 
emptied, and horses and carts removed, all along the 
line of road which the British were bound to follow in 
their advance upon Philadelphia. He spent three days 
in reconnoitring the country between his own head- 
quarters at Wilmington, and Howe's outposts, — at great 
risk to himself and his companions. Franklin, with a 
touch of sentiment unusual in official despatches, had 
begged Congress to see that Lafayette was not killed in 
battle, for the sake of his ''beautiful young wife," who 
was expecting a baby ; and he had therefore recom- 
mended that the Marquis should be placed under the 
protecting wing of the Commander-in-Chief himself. 
Franklin should by this time have known George 

^ Richard Fitzpatrick to Lady Ossory ; Camp near the head of Elk 
River, Maryland, September, 1777. Fitzpatrick had lately joined Howe's 
army. "Nothing in the world," (he wrote from New \'ork in July,) "can 
be so disagreeable and odious to me as being obliged to serve in this 
execrable war." 



Washington better. That true Virginian, whether in 
war or in the chase, went fearlessly wherever a good 
horse could carry him ; and on more than one occasion 
Howe's skirmishers had a very near view indeed of 
a soberly dressed officer mounted on a powerful bay 
charger, who did not shirk his fences, and who was 
closely attended everywhere by an aide-de-camp in 
a rich foreign uniform. The American generals now 
began to regret the absence of Colonel Morgan and his 
five hundred marksmen. Anthony Wayne suggested 
that a picked body of troops should be told off for 
special service, ''after the example of Julius Caesar at 
the siege of Alesia;"^ and Washington, without going 
so far back for a precedent, selected a hundred rank 
and file from each of his brigades, and confided them 
to the charge of General Maxwell, who was accounted 
a fighting officer. Maxwell displayed activity, and 
tried his strength against Howe's advance-guard in a 
warm encounter ;2 but he was ill supported by the 
local militia, and it soon became evident that the 
American army at Wilmington was in too exposed a 
situation for safety. On the ninth of September Wash- 
ington retreated northwards, and arrayed his troops 
upon the farther side of Brandy wine Creek, just where 
the little river was traversed by the main highway to 

In those primitive times there were few bridges ; 
and the traffic passed through the water at Chad's 
Ford, ten or a dozen miles above the point of con- 
fluence where Brandywine Creek was lost in the broad 
and stately current of the Delaware. Below the ford 
the stream ran swift, deep, and narrow between pre- 
cipitous banks ; and that portion of Washington's line 
was sufficiently guarded by a small detachment of not 

^ Wayne to Washington ; Camp at Wilmington, Sept. 2, 1777. 

2 The future Lord Harris was shot through the leg in this skirmish, 
and was reduced to follow the army in a chaise. At the battle of 
Brandywine he had the horse taken out of the shafts, and rode it bare- 
backed at the head of his company across the ford, and over the enemy's 
breastworks, before the doctors could again lay hands on him. 


very trustworthy militia. Anthony Wayne held the 
ford, which was protected by intrenchments, and raked 
by no fewer than three batteries. Next in order came 
Nathanael Greene, and his two well-drilled brigades ; 
while Sullivan, with three weak divisions, stood farther 
up the creek to the right. The position was very 
strong indeed as against an unenterprising adversary. 
In order to turn the right flank of the Americans, the 
British would have to march almost as many miles as 
they had contrived to cover during the whole of the 
past fortnight. If Washington was attacked in front, 
he felt confident that he could repulse his enemy. If, 
on the other hand, Howe went dawdling up-stream, in 
search of a practicable ford, with half the Royal army, 
Washington would have ample time to re-cross the river, 
and defeat the other half long before his dilatory oppo- 
nent re-appeared upon the scene of action.^ But an 
unpleasant surprise was in store for the American 
general. Throughout the next forty-eight hours Sir 
WilHam Howe was at his very best; and Washington 
found himself confronted, — not by the slothful and 
over-cautious strategist of the Jersey campaigns, — but 
by the high-mettled warrior who had stormed the 
redoubt at Bunker's Hill, and the consummate tactician 
who had rolled up Putnam's left and centre in headlong 
rout on Long Island. Howe's plan for forcing the 
passage of the Brandywine was faultless ; and it was 
carried out, from first to last, with rare exactitude and 
notable vigour. No time was wasted ; none of his 
fighting strength was hoarded or squandered ; and all 
his troops were taken • promptly and resolutely into 
battle, the best first. 

On Wednesday the tenth September the Royal forces 
were collected around the Quaker meeting-house at 
Kennet Square in Chester County, — a well-chosen 
rendezvous, distant enough from the enemy to baflfle 
observation, and near enough for early and decisive 

1 All the military events related in this, and the three subsequent, 
chapters can be traced in the larger map at the end of the volume. 



action on the morrow. Howe divided his regiments 
into two powerful columns, and confided them to two 
first-rate officers, Lieutenant General von Knyphausen 
and Lord Cornwallis. He informed them both of the 
services which he expected from them, and thence- 
forward left them to the unhampered guidance of their 
own judgment. At four in the morning Cornwallis 
started in the direction of the fords which crossed the 
upper Forks of the Brandywine far away in the north- 
west quarter. Sir William Howe rode with him, not 
because he distrusted his capacity as a leader, but be- 
cause it was in the company of Cornwallis that the 
sharpest fighting would most probably be witnessed. 
An hour afterwards, von Knyphausen began his march ; 
drove through the river Maxwell's people, who had been 
advantageously posted on the southern bank ; opened 
fire from his numerous artillery ; and made ostentatious 
arrangements for an assault upon the centre of the hos- 
tile position. His threatening attitude fixed the attention, 
and perturbed the mind, of the American commander. 
Washington had been informed that some Royal troops 
were moving northwards, parallel to the Brandywine 
River ; but the reports which reached him about their 
apparent strength, and their rate of progress, were in a 
high degree confused and contradictory. He had not 
the means of getting at the positive truth, because he 
was very weak in cavalry, and his generals of division 
counted the horsemen whom he was able to place at 
their disposal, not by regiments or by squadrons, but 
by units. ^ His morning passed away amidst distracting 
doubts and varying counsels ; but certainty at length 
arrived in the shape of a brief note from General 
Sullivan, who announced that the British had appeared 
in rear of his right, coming down on him in great force. 
Two brigades of them were already within two miles of 

^ " I have never," wrote Sullivan, " had any Ught horse with me since 
I joined the army. I found four when I came to Brentford's Ford, two 
of whom I sent off with Captain Hazen to Jones's Ford." Sullivan to 
Washington; Oct. 24, 1777. 


his position ; and they were followed by a cloud of dust 
stretching far back into the interior of the country. 

Washington instantaneously despatched General Sul- 
livan with orders to plant the whole of his command 
athwart the path of the advancing enemy, who by this 
time were very near a place of worship frequented by 
the Quakers of Birmingham Township ; for on that day, 
by the irony of fate, the British troops began their march 
to battle from one Friends' meeting-house, and came into 
collision with their adversaries in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of another. 1 Sullivan, by no fault of his own, 
had started half an hour too late. One of his three 
divisions, and a brigade in another, were led by worth- 
less generals. The woods were puzzling. The soldiers, 
though they could travel quick and shoot straight, were 
slow and awkward at their tactical evolutions ; and the 
various sections of the American line had not yet got 
into touch before the flower of the Royal infantry came 
sweeping forward, eager for combat, and in perfect 

Cornwallis knew when to hurry, and when to take 
his time. He had pressed the pace for ten consecutive 
hours over sixteen miles of rough and unexplored coun- 
try ; and then he halted till the rear of his column had 
closed up, and deployed his whole force as coolly and 
methodically as if he were in Hyde Park or on Houns- 
low Heath. In front were the Guards, the grenadiers 
and light infantry, and the Hessian Chasseurs ; while 
eight English battalions, twelve hundred Germans, and 
two squadrons of cavalry followed in support, or in 
reserve. Their right flank was secured by the Brandy- 
wine River ; and with everything which stood in front 
of them they were themselves prepared to deal. Corn- 
wallis gave the word. His troops charged, and at both 
extremities of the Hne they charged home. Two bri- 

1 In those sparsely settled, but essentially civilised communities, the 
churches, the Court-houses, — and, it must be admitted, the taverns, — were 
frerjuently planted at the intersection of the main roads, and played a 
prominent part in the topography of the war. 


gades, on the American right, broke and fled ; and 
Sullivan's own division, after a short resistance, escaped 
in disorder to the rear. Lord Stirling, in the centre, 
had come early on to the ground, and had found time to 
plant his cannon, and draw up his battalions, in accord- 
ance with his own rigid notions of military perfection. 
He repelled the attacks delivered by the troops in front 
of him ; and he made a stout fight of it even when some 
victorious British regiments, which had disposed of their 
own opponents, clustered in on him from several quar- 
ters. Sullivan, after vainly trying to rally the fugitives 
of his own division, exerted himself with desperate 
valour to maintain this last fragment of his line of 
battle. Two of his aides-de-camp were killed. Lafayette, 
— who had begged, or taken, leave of absence from 
Washington's side, — hastened in the direction of the 
music to the sound of which so many of his progenitors 
had died ; and was badly wounded while, sword in hand 
and dismounted, he was making himself busy in the 
thick of the tumult. At last, but not until the English 
were everywhere within pistol-range, the Republicans 
gave way, and threw themselves into the forest. 

General von Knyphausen, a veteran who could in- 
terpret the symptoms of a battle, had already observed 
large bodies of Americans filing off northwards on the 
other side of the river. After a certain interval of time 
his ears were greeted by a burst of artillery fire, which 
he recognised as the voice of Cornwallis. Then he 
sent his infantry across Chad's Ford in a dense succes- 
sion of regiments, distinguished one from another by 
numerals which are all of them so many titles of honour 
in the estimation of an old-fashioned Englishman. The 
Fourth Foot, the Fifth Foot, the Seventy-first Glasgow 
Highlanders, and the Twenty-third Fusiliers splashed 
through the water, scrambled up the bank, ran over the 
ditch and parapet, and captured a hostile breastwork 
with many of the defenders, and all the cannon. They 
drove the Republicans before them, in a running fight, 
from one enclosure to another ; until the British Guards, 


— who had lost their way in the thicket, but had kept 
their faces in the right direction, — stumbled up against 
Anthony Wayne's retreating battaHons, and scattered 
them in hopeless rout. Washington's army was now 
caught between two bodies of troops, advancing at right 
angles to each other from two widely separated points, 
and meeting at last on the field of victory. The Ameri- 
cans were exactly in the same plight as the Austrians 
at Sadowa, and the French at Waterloo ; and they would 
have fared as badly as either of them, if Washington 
had lost his presence of mind in that moment of disaster 
and incipient panic. He already had sent off Nathanael 
Greene to the assistance of Sullivan. He himself rode 
northwards to the sound of the cannon at headlong 
speed; while Greene's infantry did their best to prove 
that Virginians, in case of necessity, were quite capable 
of getting across country on foot.^ They marched and 
ran four miles in forty-two minutes ; and their com- 
mander had just time enough to post them across a 
defile, some furlongs to the rear of Dilworth village, 
before Cornwallis was upon him. It was the first occa- 
sion that the two famous captains, whose chivalrous 
antagonism signalised and dignified the later history of 
the war, encountered each other on anything approach- 
ing to equal terms. Their soldiers were hotly engaged 
during an hour, — or what seemed to them an hour, — 
at a distance of not more than fifty yards apart along a 
very narrow front. ^ At length Greene slowly drew off 

^ When the distant firing began, Washington requested a Mr. Joseph 
Brown to guide him to the front by the shortest cut. Brown was an 
elderly man, and made many excuses ; but he was hoisted on to a charger 
and forced to lead the way to Birmingham Meeting-house at a gallop, 
with the General and the Staff behind him. " Brown said that the horse 
leapt all the fences without difficulty, and was followed in like manner 
by the others. The head of General Washington's horse was constantly 
at the flank of the one on which he himself was mounted ; and the 
General was continually repeating to him : * Push along, old man. Push 
along, old man.' " 

2 Diary of Lieutenant James MacMichael. This was an officer in 
a Pennsylvanian regiment which, after the defeat of its own division, 
attached itself to General Greene, and remained with him till night- 


his troops, and disappeared into the darkness unpursued, 
and, (so far as he himself was concerned,) undefeated. 
His skill and valour, and the late hour, — for the battle 
did not begin in earnest until half-past four in the after- 
noon, — enabled the rest of the Republican army to get 
safe away to Chester on the Delaware River, thirteen 
good miles from the field of battle. That battle was 
won by bold and judicious manoeuvres ; but the event 
had not been finally decided without a good deal of 
close and obstinate fighting. Nearly six hundred Brit- 
ish and Germans were killed or wounded ; and the 
Americans lost eleven pieces of artillery, and above a 
thousand men, of whom the third part were prisoners.^ 
The Schuylkill River was thenceforward the sole 
remaining obstacle between the Royal army and the 
capital city of the rebellion. On the twentieth of 
September Washington lay in camp at Potsgrove, about 
five and thirty miles up stream from Philadelphia. The 
British were south of the river, in the neighbourhood 
of Valley Forge ; and Wayne's division had been 
detached across the Schuylkill with orders to fall upon 
Sir William Howe's rear-guard, and capture his train 
of baggage. The situation of these exposed and isolated 
Americans was hazardous in the extreme ; but the 
prospect had no terrors, and immense attractions, for 
their sanguine and intrepid general. ** There never," 
(so he wrote to Washington,) "was or will be a finer 
opportunity of giving the enemy a fatal blow than at 
present. For God's sake push on as fast as possible." 
Anthony Wayne had been an assiduous student of the 
most admired military authors ; but he now was to 
have a lesson from a master who taught him more in a 
single night than he had learned from Marshal Saxe's 

1 On the day after the battle, Sir "William Howe informed Washington 
that every possible attention had been paid to the wounded Americans, 
and requested him to send some surgeons in aid of the British regimental 
doctors, whose hands were very full. Among the Continental officers 
wounded at Brandywine was a brave New Jersey colonel, who weighed three 
hundred and twenty pounds ; and who some years afterwards was obliged 
to leave the army because no horse could carry him faster than at a walk. 


Reveries, or Caesar's Commentaries, in the course of half 
a lifetime. The best officer in Howe's army, short 
of Cornwallis, was Charles Grey, who died Earl Grey of 
Howick in Northumberland, and who was the father of 
the celebrated Whig prime-minister. It once was the 
fashion in America to write about General Grey as if 
he was of a pair with Governor Tryon ; but, in truth, 
he was a high-minded and honourable gentleman, 
and a soldier every inch of him. He had been on 
Prince Ferdinand's staff in Germany ; was wounded 
at Minden ; and afterwards, like a good comrade, 
went back to his regiment, and was wounded again at 
Kloster Kampen. In that memorable camisado Grey 
learned by personal experience the important truth 
that, in a night attack, the less noise made the better. 
Wayne, who intended to take Howe unawares, had 
used every precaution to conceal his movements ; but 
the people of the district were mostly Tories, and Sir 
William had soon been told all about him. Wayne's 
troops were encamped around the Paoli tavern, on or 
near a farm which, by a curious coincidence, had been 
his own father's property. The night of the twentieth 
September was dark and wet ; and the Republican 
infantry had been specially enjoined to take off their 
coats, and fold them round their cartridge boxes in 
order to save their ammunition from damage.^ 

General Grey, on his part, would have nothing to 
do with cartridges. His soldiers were forbidden to 
load ; and the flints were knocked out from any 
muskets which had been loaded already. The Royal 
troops, in order to prevent an alarm being given, led 
along with them in custody all the inhabitants whom 
they encountered on the road. It was as complete a 
surprise, and as utter a rout, as ever occurred in 
modern warfare. The British ran cheering in among 
the watch-fires, and fell on with sword and bayonet. 
Wayne induced some of his men to stand long enough 

1 Extract from Wayne's defence before a General Court Martial. 


to let off a couple of volleys. He succeeded in carrying 
away his artillery, and consoled himself by imagining 
that he had inflicted serious loss upon the assailants ; 
but it amounted to very little, for there were precisely 
a dozen casualties in the English ranks. Three hundred 
of the Americans were killed or wounded, and about 
thirty were captured unhurt. The affair has often been 
called, unfairly and almost absurdly, the Massacre 
of Paoli. Men always attach the idea of cruelty to 
modes of warfare in which they themselves are not 
proficient ; and Americans liked the bayonet as little 
as Englishmen approved of taking dehberate aim at 
individual officers. It was currently reported through- 
out the Confederacy that quarter had been refused, and 
that the wounded were stabbed where they lay ; bu\. 
there is no arguing against figures. When the neigh- 
bouring farmers assembled next morning to bury their 
fallen countrymen, they found only fifty-three dead 
bodies. And yet the slaughter of that night was to 
Anthony Wayne a mournful, a salutary, and an abiding 
memory. Very many years afterwards, on the eve of 
a great Indian war, — when he was the most famous 
American general who still wore a sword for use, — he 
spoke with regret about the tragical necessity of calling 
from their homes a multitude of young men in order 
to instruct them in " the dreadful trade of death." ^ 

This second American reverse settled the fate of 
Philadelphia. At gun-fire on the evening of the 
twenty-second September Sir William Howe issued 
orders that his troops should be under arms by the 
rising of the moon ; and, just after midnight, they set 

^ General Anthony Wayne to Captain William Hayman ; Legionville, 
28 December, 1792. 

Charges of inhumanity on the part of the Royal troops at Paoli are 
supported, in some histories, by quotations from a brutal, and indeed dis- 
gusting, letter purporting to be written by a Hessian sergeant. It is 
possible that such a document may be in existence ; but there were no 
Hessians in General Grey's column, and the letter has the air of a forgery. 
In time of war, productions of that class are frequently inserted in the 
newspapers by foolish and ill-conditioned people ; and they were unusually 
plentiful during the American contest. 


forth upon their march to the nearest fords. Before 
dawn the fighting men were across the water ; and at 
three in the afternoon the entire British army was 
planted, with all its artillery and all its baggage-carts, 
on the northern bank of the Schuylkill River, between 
General Washington and the city which he had been 
powerless to protect. 

It was a fearful moment for those of the towns- 
people who had committed themselves to the support 
of the Revolution ; and even convinced and conscien- 
tious Tories could not view without some trepidation 
the approach of so many thousands of expensive and 
exacting guests. Contemporary letters give a vivid 
picture of the dismay which prevailed almost universally 
among the citizens when the cannonade at Brandy wine 
Creek was distinctly heard in the southern suburbs 
of Philadelphia, and when the town-crier warned all 
householders to close their shutters, and called upon 
every man who could carry a gun to appear at the 
muster on the Commons. " Gracious God," (wrote 
one poor woman,) *Mook down upon us, and send 
help from above ! Every face you see looks wild 
and pale with fear and amazement, and quite over- 
whelmed with distress." The highways which ran 
north and east were soon thronged with Whig fugitives. 
Congress, ashamed of its hasty, and altogether, un- 
necessary, flight to Baltimore in the previous December, 
behaved with coolness and self-possession in presence 
of this much more alarming crisis. The British and 
German prisoners of war, the Government archives, 
and the more portable of the national stores, were 
conveyed betimes to distant places of security ; and all 
the militiamen of Pennsylvania were directed to hold 
themselves in readiness to march at an hour's notice. 
And then, — having entrusted Washington with full 
powers to promote or remove officers, and to make 
requisitions of food and clothing for the use of his 
soldiers, during a period of sixty days, and within a 
circumference of seventy miles around his own head- 


quarters, — ^ Congress adjourned first to Lancaster, and 
afterwards still farther west to York. There, all through 
the winter, a quorum of members continued to legislate, 
to administrate, and, (with still greater zest,) to wrangle 
and intrigue, as busily and intently as if they had not 
an enemy nearer at hand than Quebec. The familiar 
names of York and Lancaster, Reading and Chester, 
Bristol, Newcastle, and Derby, make the story of this 
campaign read like an invasion of England. The whole 
nomenclature of the district bore witness to a happier 
past, when a romantic and spontaneous affection for the 
mother-country pervaded that colony which now was 
the home of rebellion and the theatre of war. 

On Friday the twenty-sixth September the British 
army entered Philadelphia by the Germantown Road, 
and marched, in sober triumph, into and through the 
heart of the city. The vanguard was commanded by 
Lord Cornwallis, who then and always, — in many 
quarters of the world, and under circumstances of 
extreme temptation, — never failed to display a humanity 
and a generosity worthy of the great nation to which 
he and his soldiers belonged. The regimental colours 
remained in their cases ; but the bands struck up the 
tune of *' God Save the King " amidst the acclamations 
of several thousand inhabitants, who, (as an English 
officer observed,) were mostly women and children.^ 
Some of the latter, many years afterwards, wrote down 
their youthful impressions of the scene. They all 
agreed in testifying that the discipline of the Royal troops 
was exemplary, and their conduct irreproachable. Men 
occasionally dropped out of the line, and asked for milk 
or cider ; but, in the case of houses where these appli- 
cations became too frequent, a sentinel was stationed 
at the door, and relieved hour by hour until the whole 
army had filed past. One gentleman, who in 1777 was 
only ten years old, never forgot the ** tranquil look 
and dignified appearance " of the English infantry. 

1 Journal of Captain John Montresor, Chief Engineer of the British 


" I went Up," he wrote, ** to the front rank of the 
Grenadiers when they had entered Second Street. 
Several of them addressed me thus : — * How do you do, 
young one ? * * How are you, my boy ? ' — in a brotherly 
tone that seems still to vibrate on my ear. The 
Hessians followed in the rear of the Grenadiers. Their 
looks to me were terrific, — their brass caps, their 
mustachios, their countenances by nature morose, and 
their music that sounded, in better English than they 
themselves could speak, ' Plunder ! Plunder ! Plunder ! ' " 
Some of the older spectators, and especially the women, 
could not avoid comparing that brilliant and martial 
procession with the destitute and dilapidated army 
which, trying hard to look its best, had traversed the 
same hne of streets a few weeks before. The British, 
(said a Whig lady,) were clean and healthy, and well- 
clad ; and the contrast between them, and General 
Washington's poor bare-footed and ragged troops, was 
most startling, and aroused a feeling very near akin to 
positive despair.^ 

Outside Philadelphia despair was not the prevailing 
emotion among partisans of the Revolution. The cap- 
ture of that city in December 1776, or even as late as 
April 1777, would have gone far towards damping, and 
perhaps extinguishing, the rebellion. In the spring, 
(said a well-informed Loyalist,) General Howe might 
have done anything ; but he had now given the insur- 
gents leisure to collect their whole strength. ^ Ever 
since Trenton their courage had been mounting ; and 
they had recovered that habit of indomitable self-satis- 
faction which, in times of national peril and difficulty, 
has always been among the most valuable moral assets 
of the American people. Their Republic had no longer 

' Letter from Mrs. Stedman to Mrs. Ferguson. Recollections by John 
Ashniead of Germantoivn. Reminiscences of Captain J. C, quoted in the 
Sixth Volume of the Pennsylvanian Magazine. 7 he Camp on the 
Neshaj7iiny\ page 24. 

^ Diary of James Allen, of Philadelphia, Counsellor at Jmw. 


anything to fear in the northern quarter, where Bur- 
goyne was already entangled within the toils ; and 
Washington's soldiers, with the unconscionable opti- 
mism of their race, had begun to doubt whether they 
really and truly were defeated at Brandywine. They 
stoutly maintained that they had not been out-fought, 
although they had been out-numbered, and possibly 
out-generalled ; and, while faith in their leader was for 
the moment somewhat shaken, they continued heartily 
to believe in themselves. This view of the matter was 
encouraged by Washington, who had proved in a very 
recent instance that he was not avaricious of his own 
reputation if he could in any way promote the public 
advantage by sacrificing a portion of it. The poli- 
ticians at Philadelphia, thinking that a battle ought not 
to be lost without somebody being punished for it, had 
voted to recall Sullivan from the army in order to stand 
his trial for misconduct in the field. Washington at 
once came manfully forward in defence of his lieutenant. 
He told Congress that, so long as Lincoln and Arnold 
were absent, he was very short of good Major Generals ; 
and that he could not afford to lose the services of a 
brave and loyal officer, who had done nothing at 
Brandywine except in obedience to his own express 
orders. Washington was all the more careful not to 
hurt the self-respect of his generals, or repress the 
enthusiasm of his rank and file, because he was very 
weak in numbers. His militia, hastily scraped together 
from States which had long ago sent into the regular 
army all the most martial elements in their population, 
could not be trusted to face the British muskets ; and 
of Continental infantry he had barely eight thousand. 
The official returns of the Royal army, in the same 
week, showed sixteen thousand men '' fit for duty ; " 
which in their case was no routine phrase, for every 
one of Sir William Howe's regiments was qualified to 
play its part in all the emergencies of war. But Wash- 
ington, — except under circumstances where audacity 
would have been sheer madness,- — was always a fighting 


general ; and he now resolved to take his people while 
they were in the humour, and, whether few or many, 
to give them one more chance of trying their mettle 
against the invader. 

The access to Philadelphia from the northwest 
lay through the main street of Germantown. That 
community, (as the name implies,) had been founded 
towards the close of the seventeenth century by Ana- 
baptist emigrants of Teutonic origin whose theological 
creed was too abnormal, and too sincerely held, to be 
tolerated in Europe ; and who accordingly sought and 
found, under the broad-minded rule of William Penn, 
the religious, the political, and the commercial freedom 
denied them on their native soil. " Most of the in- 
habitants," wrote a Swedish traveller in the year 1748, 
*' are manufacturers, and make almost everything in 
such quantity and perfection that, in a short time, this 
province will want very little from England." ^ They 
exercised their craft in fresh air, and amidst cheerful 
surroundings. Germantown is now the favourite resi- 
dential suburb of Philadelphia ; and all the surviving 
monuments of its simple and artistic past are still held 
in high honour. ^ The dwellings, with their quaint 
gables and ponderous cornices, — " built of a stone 
which is mixed with glimmer, and roofed with shingles 
of white cedarwood," — were disposed well apart from 
each other in pretty gardens, with orchards and pad- 
docks extending back into the adjoining country.^ The 
straggling grass-bordered highway, which was called a 
street, measured two miles in length ; and halfway 
down it stood, and stands, the house of Benjamin Chew, 
the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. He was a magis- 
trate so popular, and so universally respected, that, 
when the war was over, his fellow-citizens pardoned his 

^ Travels into North America^ by Peter Kalm, Professor of Economy 
in the University of Abo in Swedish Finland. 

2 The Germantown Road and its Associations, a collection of papers 
published in 1881 by Mr. Townsend Ward, is well worth reading. The 
illustrations are curious and attractive. 

* Kalm's Travels. 


Toryism, and appointed him once more to high judicia\ 
office. His stately and ever hospitable mansion, situ- 
ated amidst smooth lawns and noble timber, was the 
perfection of domestic architecture ; and its beautiful 
proportions have been reproduced on a medal issued 
as a badge of merit to an English regiment.^ That 
house formed the central point of the position where, 
in the first week of October 1777, Sir WiUiam Howe 
arrayed his army with the object of covering the 
approach to Philadelphia. In and about the grounds 
was quartered the Fortieth Foot, under Colonel Mus- 
grave, who had already done excellent service in the 
opening battles of the campaign, and who was soon to 
win a name which his countrymen, and still more his 
admiring adversaries, have taken good care shall not be 
forgotten. A very strong corps of British infantry, — 
composed, according to the questionable fashion of that 
day, by withdrawing the light companies from ten or 
a dozen regiments, — was thrown forward a mile in 
advance of the Chew mansion. About as far in rear 
of the building, at a distance of something over five 
miles from the market-place of Philadelphia, the bulk 
of the British troops were encamped along a front of 
four thousand yards. If they had been Americans 
they would have intrenched themselves, as by instinct, 
within eight and forty hours ; but the officers of our 
army, — where the Chief Engineer was a Captain, and 
nothing more, — regarded such precautions as unmili- 
tary, and such labours as mechanical, and even ple- 
beian. Sir William Howe himself objected on principle 
to field-works. He never, (he said,) favoured their 
construction *' at the head of the line, when in force," 
for fear of diminishing the self-reliance, and the well- 
founded self-esteem, of his soldiers. 

1 John Adams, like all prominent men of every American party, had 
sat at the Chief Justice's table. " We were shown into a grand entry and 
staircase, and into an elegant and most magnificent chamber until dinner. 
The furniture was all rich. . . . Wines most excellent and admirable. 
I drank Madeira at a great rate, and found no inconvenience." Adams'^ 
Diary for September 1774. 


On Friday the third October the Republicans biv- 
ouacked in Worcester Township, five miles east of 
Skippack Creek, and eighteen miles from the city of 
Philadelphia.^ At seven o'clock that evening their 
whole army set out for Germantown. Greene com- 
manded on the left, and Sullivan on the right ; while 
Lord Stirling followed in reserve. Each soldier carried 
forty cartridges, and provisions for three days ; and 
every man and officer had a piece of white paper fas- 
tened in his hat. It was an operation on the plan of 
Trenton, — with the same leaders on the same flanks, 
a night-march of the same length, and the same ex- 
pectation of catching the opponent at a disadvantage 
in the early morning. On the present occasion, how- 
ever, Washington had a more vigilant and valiant 
enemy to deal with ; and the numbers were against 
him, and the luck also. It was, moreover, impossible 
for ten thousand armed men, and the teams of forty 
field-pieces, to traverse unobserved a district which 
was largely hostile. Sir William Howe had been in- 
formed overnight that an unusual amount of bustle was 
visible in the American lines ; and that, beyond all 
question, an important movement was afoot. He 
warned his generals to be on the alert, but he made no 
change in the arrangement of his troops ; and, in point 
of fact, it is not easy to see how they could have been 
better posted. 

The Americans pressed forward through the dark- 
ness silently and, (considering the nature of the 
country,) very expeditiously. Sullivan arrived first on 
the ground, and was quite ready to commence at dawn. 
But the dawn never appeared. The night had been 
frosty, and the chill air heavy with lowland vapours. 
Towards morning the whole country became enveloped 
in a dense fog, ruinous to the success of a combined 
attack made by several converging columns upon our 
skilfully embattled, and admirably disciplined, army. 

^ The places mentioned in this chapter are indicated in the map at the 
end of the volume. 



Sullivan's people speedily came into collision with the 
Royal light infantry ; killed their sentries ; surprised 
their picket ; and drove the whole battalion, strenuously 
resisting, a full mile to the rearward. There the re- 
treating companies fell into line with the Fortieth Regi- 
ment, which was drawn up behind the fence of a 
spacious orchard where Colonel Musgrave had pitched 
his camp. Their volleys, delivered coolly and with 
visible effect, stopped the first rush of the Republican 
onset. An obstinate contest ensued, in which the com- 
batants, — who never saw forty yards, and very seldom 
more than twenty yards, in front of them, — made shift 
to aim at the flashes of the musketry opposite. On the 
side of the Americans there was superiority of numbers, 
and no lack of courage ; and, in something less than 
twenty minutes, as men reckon time in battle, the British 
line gave way. While they were retiring from the con- 
flict our soldiers encountered the wrathful presence of 
Sir William Howe, who had hurried to the front, and 
who now found himself nearer than he anticipated, but 
not nearer than he liked, to the hostile muzzles. ** For 
shame. Light Infantry ! " he cried ; '' I never saw you 
retreat before. Form ! Form ! It is only a scouting- 
party." At this moment, to the intense satisfaction of 
those veterans whom the general was rebuking, the 
head of an American column loomed through the mist, 
and several pieces of cannon opened fire upon the 
group of horsemen who were standing with Sir William 
Howe under a large chestnut-tree. "' I never," said an 
officer of the Fifty-second Regiment, " saw people enjoy 
a discharge of grape before ; but we all felt pleased to 
hear the grape rattle about the Commander-in-Chief's 
ears after he had accused the battalion of having run 
away from a scouting-party." ^ 

A portion of the Fortieth Regiment went off in 
safety; but Colonel Musgrave, with six weak com- 
panies, was entirely surrounded by the enemy. In the 

^ Letter quoted in the History of the Fifty-second British Regiment 
by General Hunter. 


course of the Revolutionary War two of King George's 
armies, finding themselves in a hopeless strategical 
position, were reduced to capitulate after they had done 
everything which honour and patriotism could demand ; 
but to surrender during the heat of an engagement, 
while his soldiers had any ammunition left in their 
pouches, was an idea which, at that period of our 
military history, was almost inconceivable to a British 
regimental officer. Musgrave, with infinite difficulty, 
got his men inside the Chief Justice's house. He 
posted some of them in the rooms below, with orders 
to bar the doors and shutters, and bayonet everyone 
who should attempt to enter ; while the rest were 
stationed, with their guns loaded, at the windows of 
the two upper stories. A young Virginian lieutenant, 
preceded by a drummer beating a parley, summoned 
the garrison to lay down their arms. The poor lad 
approached waving a white handkerchief. In such a 
state of the atmosphere, however, one colour looked the 
same as another, and the messenger of peace was shot 
dead. Three American cannon were immediately run 
forward, and blew in the hall-door at the first dis- 
charge ; but the English captain who commanded on 
the ground-floor, and who had barricaded the entry 
with a pile of furniture, sent up word to Musgrave that 
the soldiers above stairs might ply their muskets in full 
assurance that their comrades below stairs would do 
their duty. 

The Republicans advanced to the attack with spirit 
and resolution. One officer had his horse killed 
under him within three yards of the house. Another, 
who got close beneath the wall with an armful of 
straw and a lighted torch, was mortally wounded by 
a shot fired upwards through the cellar-grating. The 
Chevalier de Plessis clambered over the sill of a 
window, and found himself, alone and unsupported, in 
the presence of a group of redcoats from whom he was 
glad to escape alive. He was the only man among the 
assailants who, on that day, saw the inside of the Chew 



mansion. Colonel John Laurens, with fruitless daring, 
led a storming-party of New Jerseymen against the 
principal entrance. The marble statues and vases, 
which ornamented the Chief Justice's lawn, were 
chipped and starred by the EngHsh bullets ; but 
nothing made of flesh and blood could remain erect on 
that bare plot of turf, and under that deadly shower. 
Washington would, from the very first, have done well 
to have neglected Musgrave, and continued his forward 
movement in the direction of Philadelphia. By this 
time a large portion of his army had got completely 
out of hand. The American infantry and artillery 
made a circle about the building, and scourged it with 
a tempest of round-shot, grape, and musketry. The 
roof was pierced, and all the glass and woodwork 
shattered ; but General Knox's three-pounders could 
make no impression whatever upon the well-laid brick 
walls and the massive stone copings. The bombard- 
ment had, in one important respect, a decisive influence 
upon the result of the battle ; for the roar of the guns 
exerted a fatal attraction over those American generals 
and colonels who were painfully and blindly groping 
their passage through the fog. Battalions, brigades, 
and in one case a whole division, came blundering up 
from right, and left, and rear ; firing in the direction of 
the foe, and sometimes into the backs of their own 
friends ; increasing the confusion, and perpetually add- 
ing to the .noise. Before very long three thousand 
Republicans were clustered and intermingled around 
the British stronghold ; and Musgrave's seven score 
musketeers, like the Guardsmen at Hougomont, per- 
formed the inestimable service of detaining and para- 
lysing, through the critical hours of a disputed day, 
a hostile force enormously out of proportion to their 
own scanty numbers. 

Washington had no strength to spare ; for the most 
difficult part of his work was still before him. No 
fewer than five brigades of Royal infantry, with plenty 
of cannon, were drawn up behind a long and narrow 


lane which crossed the village street at right angles 
a mile farther down the road to Philadelphia. The 
whole centre of the American army was now a whirl- 
pool of confusion, which drew into its vortex every- 
thing that came near it ; but the troops on Greene's 
extreme left, and Wayne's division, which closed the 
line on Sullivan's right, pushed vigorously forward, 
and were very soon in contact with the enemy. The 
Repubhcans were successful at first ; but after a while 
the tide of battle turned. Sullivan's people lost heart 
on a sudden ; and they were not without their excuses. 
They had travelled through the night. They had been 
fighting hard for nearly three hours. They had fired 
away their ammunition. Their flank was unprotected. 
Their reserves stopped behind to help, or to hinder, the 
attack upon Musgrave's garrison ; and the English 
brigade immediately opposite to them was commanded 
by General Charles Grey, who, — as Wayne now for 
the second time experienced, — was a very awkward 
man to run up against in the dark. The roar of 
the American batteries around the Chew mansion told 
upon the nerves of Sullivan's exhausted soldiers. A 
rumour arose, and spread, that they were being assailed 
in the rear by a hostile force ; and, to the surprise of 
the officers who commanded them, they broke their 
ranks, and retired from the field in hurry and disarray. 
The defeat and disappearance of the American 
right wing placed General Greene in a situation of 
extreme jeopardy. He was hotly engaged to the east 
of the village, where he drove back the troops whom 
he first encountered, and took from them more prisoners 
than he had the means of guarding. All his men 
were now inside the British lines, fifteen hundred paces 
ahead of the nearest body of their fellow-countrymen, 
and mixed up with their adversaries in close and 
deadly strife. Nothing could avert their capture or 
destruction unless their general, by a miracle of energy, 
contrived to extricate them from the battle and the 
mist. Greene, if he had time to think, must have 


regarded the task as well nigh hopeless. His scope 
of vision was limited to the length of a pistol-shot; 
his aides-de-camp, on their jaded steeds, could not 
leap the garden walls, and orchard-fences, by which 
the outskirts of Germantown were everywhere inter- 
sected ; and he was within a few minutes of having 
the whole British army upon his hands. Charles 
Grey, with the promptitude of a good soldier, got 
his three battalions firmly into grasp ; changed front 
to the right ; and, flanked or followed by the rest of 
Howe's left wing, swept down upon the houses and 
the enclosures amidst which the Americans were posted. 
Lord Cornwallis had been left in care of Philadelphia, 
within hearing of the cannon. His practised ear soon 
informed him that this was no mere affair of out- 
posts ; and he set out for Germantown with three 
battalions of English and Hessian grenadiers. They 
started at a run ; they kept it up for most of the way; 
and, before the crisis arrived, they were already 
near the spot. The British infantry in Greene's front, 
who had given ground reluctantly, and sold it dearly, 
rallied once more to the charge, and stormed fiercely 
in. There was no flinching on either part. The 
American bullets flew straight, and the Tower bayonets 
were actively at work. An English general of brigade, 
and two English colonels, were struck down with 
mortal wounds.^ The Ninth Continental Regiment, 
familiarly known as "the Tall Virginians," was sur- 
rounded and taken ; but not until the devoted battal- 
ion had been reduced by shot and steel to the strength 
of a single company. Nathanael Greene, during that 
terrible half-hour, set an example of cool and homely 
valour which, for long afterwards, was the talk of the 
American camp-fires. One of his field-pieces had been 
dismounted, and might have been abandoned without 

^ The Fifth Regiment lost their colonel at Germantown. Captain 
Harris succeeded to the command, and soon afterwards, in a fight 
aejainst the French, he made a very great name both for himself and for 
his regiment. 


dishonour ; but Greene had handled heavier masses of 
iron in his father's anchor-yard ; and he soon got the 
cannon Hfted on to a waggon, and carted to the rear. 
When, later in the retreat, there was an alarm of 
cavalry, and the less resolute men slunk off into the 
fog, the General ordered what remained of the escort to 
join hands, and step along in line behind the guns; and 
so the straggling ceased, and the whole of his artillery 
was drawn away in safety. 

When the fugitives from Sullivan's regiments 
streamed past the place where Washington was 
stationed, replying to his questions and expostulations 
by pointing at their empty cartridge-boxes, the Ameri- 
can commander at once recognised that the fortune 
of war had definitely gone against him. Without a 
moment's hesitation he began his arrangements for 
retreat, and did not call a halt until his troops were 
once more back in the distant quarters from which 
they had issued at the same hour on the preceding 
evening. The skill of his dispositions was respectfully 
admired by those officers in the van of the pursuing 
army who had any knowledge of tactics ; and his Con- 
tinental infantry showed so firm a countenance that the 
British dragoons refrained from charging. General 
Howe followed up his success languidly, and inflicted 
little or no damage upon the departing enemy. It was 
alleged in defence that his soldiers were very tired ; 
but they must have been fresh in comparison to the 
Americans, who had been marching all the previous 
night while the English were sound asleep.^ The 
period which intervened between ten in the morning 
and dusk, on the fourth of October 1777, was for Sir 

^ Lieutenant James MacMichael, of the Pennsylvanian Line, noted in 
his diary that he got back to the camp on Skippack Creek at nine in the 
evening. " I had," he wrote, " previously undergone many fatigues, but 
never any that had so much overdone me as this. Had it not been for 
the fear of being taken prisoner, I should have remained on the road all 
night. I had marched in twenty-four hours forty-five miles, and in that 
time fcjught four hours, during which we advanced so furiously through 
buckwheat fields that it was almost unspeakable fatigue." 


William Howe a lost, — and, as fate willed it, a last, — 
opportunity. Washington saved all his cannon. Four 
hundred of his people had been taken prisoners, and 
six hundred killed or wounded. Fifty-three Americans 
lay dead on the lawn in front of the Chew mansion, 
and four across the door-steps ; and the very great 
number of their officers who perished sword in hand in the 
course of those few hours was a remarkable testimony 
to the discriminating vigour with which the commis- 
sioned ranks of Washington's New Model army had 
been purged of all baser elements. Our troops had 
suffered almost as heavily as their opponents ; and for 
weeks to come there were melancholy scenes in the 
churchyard of the village, and in the upper chambers 
of its pleasant and hospitable homes. The humanity 
of the victors, — which was sure to be the case where a 
Howe was in command, — manifested itself equally and 
impartially towards friends and foes ; and the surgeons 
of the Medical College in Philadelphia were encouraged 
to exercise their then unsurpassed science and dexterity 
on behalf of the wounded men of both armies.^ During 
that fierce struggle between kinsmen, the old fraternal 
feeling was not extinct in many gallant hearts. On the 
hundred and twenty-sixth anniversary of the battle 
the remains of two English officers of rank were re- 
interred, at the cost of our own Government, near the 
spot where they had fallen ; but those brave men had 
already rested peaceably for many years beneath a 
very brief and simple, — and, for that reason, perfect, — 
epitaph which had been placed on their gravestone by 
the native inhabitants of Germantown.^ 

1 " I went to see Doctor Foulke amputate an American soldier's leg, 
which he completed in twenty minutes, while the physician at the Mili- 
tary Hospital was forty minutes performing an operation of the same 
nature." Diary of Robert Morton ; kept in Philadelphia while that City 
was occupied by the British Army. 

2 " No more at War. 

General Agnew and Colonel Bird : 

British officers, 

Wounded at the Battle of Germantown." 


Washington, cruelly disappointed, complained in 
a private letter to his brother that his own troops, when 
they were just on the point of obtaining a decisive 
triumph, had taken fright, and fled with precipitation 
and disorder. But Germantown, none the less, was 
of great and enduring service to the American cause. 
That the battle had been fought unsuccessfully was of 
small importance when weighed against the fact that it 
had been fought at all. Eminent generals, and states- 
men of sagacity, in every European Court were profoundly 
impressed by learning that a new army, raised within 
the year, and undaunted by a series of recent disasters, 
had assailed a victorious enemy in his own quarters, and 
had only been repulsed after a sharp and dubious con- 
flict. An historian of note has truly said that the French 
Government, in making up its mind on the question 
whether the Americans would prove to be efficient allies, 
was influenced almost as much by the battle of German- 
town as by the surrender of Burgoyne.^ Frederic the 
Great had at first regarded the capture of Philadelphia 
by Sir William Howe as equivalent to the suppression of 
the rebellion.^ He himself, in the course of the Seven 
Years' War, had twice seen Berlin in the occupation of 
an invading foe, without slackening his efforts, or sur- 
rendering himself to discouragement and despair ; but 
he could not be expected to believe, without proof given, 
that the American general, and the American nation, 
possessed tenacity as indomitable, and energy as un- 
quenchable, as his own. When, however, the news of 
Germantown reached Potsdam, the Prussian King, with a 
flash of insight which revealed to him the military and 
political situation beyond the Atlantic, pronounced that 
such a people, under such a leader, would survive even 
greater trials and mischances than the temporary loss 
of their capital city. 

Congress, in manly terms, voted their thanks to 
General Washington and his soldiers : acknowledging 

^ Fiske's American /\ evolution ; Chapter 7. 

2 Le Roi Frederic a Monsieur cle Goltz ; Potsdam, 13 Novembre, 1777. 


that the best designs, and the boldest efforts, might 
sometimes fail by unforeseen accidents ; and expressing 
an earnest belief that the valour and virtue of the 
army would thereafter, by the blessing of Heaven, 
be crowned with deserved success.^ That belief most 
undoubtedly was held by the army itself. Anthony 
Wayne, who had been defeated three times in as 
many weeks, — and who, on this third occasion, had 
been bruised by a cannon-ball, grazed by a bullet, and 
rolled on the ground under his dying horse within a 
few paces of the English bayonets, — assured his wife 
that he had had a glorious day at Germantown, and 
that his men were in the highest spirits, looking for- 
ward eagerly to another battle. Those irrepressible, if 
not altogether invincible, warriors banished from their 
memories the calamitous issue, and dwelt with just 
pride upon the honourable incidents, of the combat.^ 
Nor were these sentiments confined to their own breasts. 
An increased respect for the prowess of American 
soldiers, and for the enterprise of American generals, 
prevailed among the adversaries with whom they had 
been contending; and the battle of Germantown affords 
a striking instance of the advantage which, in the long 
run, almost invariably rewards the strategist who com- 
bats evil fortune by assuming a vigorous offensive. 
From that day forward, during all the remaining years 

"^Journals of Congress ; October 8th, 1777. 

2 " This action convinced our people that, when they attacked, they 
can confuse and rout the flower of the British Army." Israel Putnam to 
Governor Trumbull ; Fishkill, October 15, 1777. 

There was something almost comic in the persuasion of the individual 
American soldier that he, and his own regiment, would have done 
wonders at Germantown, if others had not failed in their duty. That 
view is recorded by an honest Pennsylvanian subaltern in a passage of not 
very Homeric verse. 

" I then said, I had seen another battle o'er, 
And it had exceeded all I ever saw before. 
Yet through the danger I escaped without receiving harm, 
And providentially got safe through firing that was warm. 
But to my grief, though I fought sore, yet we had to retreat 
Because the cowardice of those on our left was great." 


of the protracted war, Washington, and the army which 
he personally commanded, were never again seriously 
attacked by the enemy. 

A couple of months after the battle of Germantown 
Horace Walpole informed a correspondent that tidings 
of two victories had arrived in London, and that the 
King had been *' restored to the sovereignty of Phila- 
delphia." Even that modest estimate was as yet beyond 
the mark. Sir WilHam Howe was inside the city, 
and Washington had failed to turn him out of it by 
force ; but a great deal had still to be done before the 
Royal general could hold his conquest in perpetuity. 
What with soldiers, teamsters, and camp followers, he 
had brought in his train more than twenty thousand 
mouths which would have to be abundantly and regu- 
larly filled if his army was to continue efficient ; 
and he found in Philadelphia at least as many private 
persons of all ages, and both sexes, who could not 
be allowed to starve. The town had not been vic- 
tualled for a siege. Like other centres of commerce 
and manufacture it had been fed, from week to week, 
and from day to day, by an automatic and complicated 
machinery which ran smoothly and silently in time of 
peace, but which broke down when the neighbourhood 
was infested by contending armies. It is true that 
Pennsylvanian agriculturists, who as a class had little 
love for the Revolution, would in most cases have 
been glad enough to sell their produce to the English 
Commissariat officers at war prices ; and, where the 
American farmers refused to trade, the Hessian foragers 
would have been very ready to take. But Washington 
had planted himself, close at hand, on Pennsylvanian 
soil. His main army was so judiciously posted, and 
his detached parties showed themselves so active and 
ubiquitous, that the British at Philadelphia were de- 
barred from the resources of the fertile region west 
of the Delaware, and were reduced to draw their 


rations from the Government magazines in New York 
city. Their only Une of supply by land was on the 
east side of the river, across the northern districts of 
New Jersey; and the conduct of George the Third's 
foreign mercenaries, during the previous December, had 
changed the Jerseymen from half-hearted Loyalists, 
or very mild Whigs, into something which resembled a 
community of guerillas. They were guerillas of an Anglo- 
Saxon type, — not cruel or ferocious, but so vigilant 
and indefatigable, and so smart and handy in their 
operations, that it would be necessary for Sir William 
Howe to employ half his army in protecting his com- 
munications, if his provision-waggons were to pass, 
unburned and unplundered, over the hundred miles 
of highway which lay between the Bay of New York 
and the town of Philadelphia. It was already evi- 
dent that the British soldiers, and the civil population 
amidst which they were quartered, would have to be 
fed by water-carriage ; and the passage down the Dela- 
ware, from the city to the open sea, had long ago 
been providently, industriously, and on the whole not 
unskilfully, blocked by the exertions of the Republican 

For a considerable distance south of Philadelphia 
the river was thickly studded with islands, great and 
small ; and it was easy for the American engineers to 
obstruct navigation by those elaborate barriers which it 
pleased their fancy to entitle chevaitx de frise, and by 
the more effective impediment of forts and batteries. 
Twelve miles down-stream the main channel was filled 
with "transverse beams, firmly united, pointing in va- 
rious directions, and strongly headed with iron ; " ^ 
and this portentous conglomeration of wood and metal 
was flanked by the guns of a large intrenchment, 
erected upon a bluff overlooking the town of Bilhngs- 
port on the eastern shore of the Delaware. On a low 
island, a few miles farther up the river, stood a group 

* ** History of Europe " in the Annual Register for 1 777 ; Chapter 7. 


of block-houses enclosed in a parapet, and dignified by 
the name of Fort Mifflin ; immediately opposite, at Red 
Bank on the Jersey shore, was a well-placed and care- 
fully planned redoubt called after General Mercer, the 
Virginian who had been killed at Princeton ; and the 
course of the current, between and below the two 
fortresses, had been barricaded by an invisible frame- 
work of sunken timber and scuttled barges. In ad- 
dition to the stationary batteries, and to these hidden 
dangers which lurked beneath the waters, there was 
a fine frigate named the Delaware, and a numerous 
flotilla of schooners, fire-ships, floating batteries, galleys, 
gondolas, and xebecques. The vessels were classed 
under fantastic designations, and christened after a 
variety of ancient and contemporary naval heroes ; 
but they were badly manned and worse commanded. 
Among their crews were many landsmen, who had been 
exempted even from the training which, as time went 
on, might have converted them into sailors. The 
streets of Philadelphia had been placarded during the 
preceding winter by a recruiting notice of unique and 
unprecedented character. Gentlemen who desired to 
assist their country in the struggle for liberty, but who 
might not choose to be far removed from their parents 
or family, were invited to evince their patriotism, " and 
at the same time to gratify their tender feelings," by 
entering themselves for service in the New Floating 
Battery. On board this comfortable and well-protected 
hulk, — which, (so the Government promised,) should 
never be stationed more than seven miles away from their 
native city, — those of them who were handicraftsmen 
might pursue their arts in peace, while they enjoyed a 
stipend of fifty shillings a month, together with an allow- 
ance of ten pounds of meat a week, and a pint of rum 
every two days. The advertisement bore signs of hav- 
ing been drawn up either by Benjamin Franklin before 
he sailed for France, or by some constant reader of the 
Gazette, and the Almanac, who had caught Franklin's 
style; but the sort of mariners whom such a prospectus 


would attract were not very likely to hold their own in 
the day of battle against an equal number of Lord 
Howe's able seamen.^ 

The situation was embarrassing ; but Sir William 
Howe had already begun to deal with it. On the even- 
ing of the day that our army took possession of Phila- 
delphia Lord Cornwallis planted three batteries of heavy 
cannon along the river front of the city. Early next 
morning the larger American vessels anchored off the 
wharf at a respectful distance, and commenced bombard- 
ing ; but the British howitzers replied, and had much 
the best of the controversy. The Delaware frigate was 
deplorably handled in the action ; and it soon became 
evident that her officers had not so much as acquainted 
themselves with the soundings of the river after which 
their ship was called. When the tide fell she was left 
aground. She was abandoned by her consorts. She 
caught fire in two places. Her captain meekly complied 
with a summons to come on shore as a prisoner. Her 
crew escaped in the boats ; and their vacant places were 
taken by a boarding-party of Royal Marines, who extin- 
guished the flames, and got her broad-sides once more 
into working order. The British army, unaided by a 
single man-of-war, had inflicted upon the Republican 
squadron a blow from the moral effect of which it never 
recovered. Five days afterwards a detachment of Howe's 
infantry took possession of Billingsport, and the English 
frigates from below the barrier cleared a passage through 
the chevatcx de frise. The American flotilla made a 

1 " Those who are thus inclined to serve themselves, their country, 
and posterity, let them repair to the Sign of the Two Tuns, opposite the 
New Market, where they shall have a month's pay in advance, and a 
dollar, or a dollar's worth of drink, to drown sorrow, and drive away 
care. The battery is well constructed for the preservation and accom- 
modation of her men. Any industrious tradesman, whose business is 
of a sedentary nature, may here have his house-rent, firing, victuals, 
and drink, free; besides his pay, and a great deal of time in which he 
may employ himself for the emolument of his family, (should he have 
one,) or fill his pockets for his own amusement." Annrican Archives 
for October 1776. 


show of interrupting the operation. But the Andrea 
Doria and the Benedict Arnold, opening fire at long 
range, and desisting as soon as the British advanced 
towards closer quarters, behaved in a manner very un- 
worthy of their names ; whilst disheartenment, in the 
case of more than one ship's-company, did not stop short 
of defection from the Republican cause. Washington, 
in sad and stately phrases, lamented that the officers and 
seamen on board the galleys had manifested a disposi- 
tion which reflected little honour upon their courage 
and fidelity. Two complete crews, (he said,) had actually 
deserted to the adversary. 

It was a sorry, but by many centuries not a new, 
story. Among a people engaged in a wrestle for national 
existence, — and making head against unaccustomed 
dangers by means of raw levies and improvised military 
appliances, — panic and indiscipline have, in all ages, 
alternated with world-renowned manifestations of valour 
and devotion. Nor can it be denied that the high 
character of American patriotism was handsomely vindi- 
cated before the contest for the Delaware had been 
brought to a conclusion. When, on the thirteenth 
September lyyy, the news of victory on the Brandywine 
reached Lord Howe's flag-ship in the Elk River, the 
British admiral took instant measures for transferring 
his powerful fleet, and his vast convoy, to those distant 
waters where the fate of the campaign was now about 
to be decided. He retraced the whole of his long and 
useless voyage, making his way down the estuary of 
the Chesapeake at the rate of five leagues in the twenty- 
four hours, and then tacking, slowly and painfully, up 
the stretch of sea-coast which extended from the Capes 
of Virginia to the entrance of Delaware Bay. The winds 
were adverse and tempestuous; but, by dint of sturdy 
seamanship, Lord Howe's leading division came to 
anchor off the town of Chester, just fifteen miles below 
Philadelphia, on the fourth day of October. Another 
week elapsed before the rest, but not quite all the rest, 
of his storm-tossed vessels straggled home into smooth 


water from their conflict with the Atlantic Ocean.^ The 
British fleet and the British army were now once more 
in touch ; and the brothers Howe, after no undue delay, 
contrived their plan for a conjoint attack upon the 
formidable stronghold of Fort Mercer. The Admiral 
undertook to distract and annoy the garrison by cannon- 
ading the river-face of the American defences, while in 
the landward quarter an assault was to be pushed home 
by an officer who petitioned for that arduous employ- 
ment as a personal favour to himself. Ever since the 
disaster of Trenton, Colonel Von Donop had been urgent 
for an opportunity to re-establish the military credit of 
his German comrades ; and Sir William Howe, who loved 
a man of spirit, willingly acceded to his request. Von 
Donop took with him three battalions of Grenadiers, 
and a very strong regiment of ordinary infantry ; Hes- 
sians all, two thousand bayonets by count.^ They were 
ferried across from Philadelphia on the twenty-first 
October, and halted at night in the village of Haddon- 
field on the Jersey shore, ten miles north-west of the 
fortress which they were to assail on the morrow. 

The place was held by three hundred infantry from 
Rhode Island, trained in Nathanael Greene's methods; 
animated by his spirit ; and commanded by his kins- 
man and military pupil, — an officer whose reputation 
has been established, beyond the possibility of detrac- 
tion, by the events of a single afternoon. Colonel 
Christopher Greene had come to the conclusion that the 
circuit of the works was too extensive to be properly 
manned by his handful of musketeers. Advised and 
assisted by the Chevalier Mauduit de Plessis, — a young 

^ A fine transport, which Lord Howe had re-named ** The Father's 
Good Will" with the idea of re-assuring and conciliating King George's 
misguided subjects, foundered and sank under stress of weather. It was 
a sinister, and all too veracious, omen. 

'^ On the rolls of the army which embarked at New York in July 1777 
the three Grenadier battalions averaged four hundred and thirty bayonets 
apiece ; the Mirbach Regiment numbered more than seven hundred rank 
and file ; and each company of chasseurs must have had a strength of ?'■ 
least fifty rifles. 


Frenchman of family who had volunteered to serve in 
Fort Mercer, and who there united in his own person 
the functions of Chief Engineer and Commandant of 
Artillery, — he abandoned and dismantled the outer line 
of defences, and bestowed all his attention on a small 
pentagonal redoubt which occupied the centre of the 
position. The ditch surrounding this little citadel had 
in front of it a barricade of felled trees w^ith interwoven 
branches ; while behind it was a bank of earth, ten feet 
high, and faced with planking. Late in the evening of 
the twenty-first October a detachment of Pennsylvanian 
militia, equal in number to the whole of Christopher 
Greene's troops, looked in on their way to Fort Mifflin, 
whither they had been despatched by General Washing- 
ton as a reinforcement for the garrison stationed on the 
island. Their colonel earnestly begged that he and his 
people might be permitted to cast in their lot with the 
defenders of Fort Mercer ; but, after sleeping on the 
question, Christopher Greene declined to interfere with 
the plans of the Commander-in-Chief, and sent the 
Pennsylvanians off to their destination at break of day. 
About four o'clock in the afternoon the enemy came 
in sight, and took up their alignment in front of the 
woods, a quarter of a mile to the northward. Two of 
Von Donop's staff officers advanced as near the fortifica- 
tions as they were allowed to approach ; summoned 
the King of England's rebellious subjects to lay down 
their arms ; and warned them that, " if they stood the 
battle, no quarter whatever would be given." The 
Americans listened to the message with surprise and 
indignation. For the war had hitherto been conducted, 
as between EngHshmen, with reasonable humanity, 
and not infrequent displays of rough but genuine 
good nature ; and the Rhode Island farmers did not 
relish this taste of bloodthirsty rhetoric inspired by 
the worst military traditions of Continental Europe. 
To the imagination of a quiet-mannered people the 
very gestures of Von Donop's envoys seemed insolent, 
and their countenances cruel and haughty. As soon 

VOL. IV. s 


as the parley was at an end Von Donop assembled 
his colonels, and addressed them in stirring language. 
In obedience to his own example they all dismounted, 
unsheathed their swords, and placed themselves in front 
of their respective battaUons ; while the Hessian Grena- 
diers cheered like mad, and called out that Fort Mercer 
should soon be re-named " Fort Donop." Christopher 
Greene, who had been watching the foe through a 
spy-glass from the summit of the parapet, descended 
from his post of observation, and walked down the 
line with one last word of counsel to each of his 
followers. '* Fire low, my men ; " he said. ** They 
have a broad belt just above the hips. That is where 
you must aim." 

Historians have reported, or invented, longer speeches 
made on the eve of battle by more renowned generals ; 
but the American leader had said exactly what the 
occasion needed. Over and above the intrinsic import- 
ance of the advice, he had given his soldiers, at the 
critical moment of the fight, something else to think 
about besides their own personal danger. At a quarter 
before five in the evening the Hessian artillery began 
to play ; and their infantry came on like a broad torrent, 
three regiments in front, and the fourth in reserve. They 
rushed over the exterior breastworks, which were bare 
of men, in full belief that the terror of their charge had 
sent the garrison flying to the rear ; and, without wait- 
ing to look around them, they advanced at a run upon 
the inner fort, — still in good order, (for they were drilled 
to perfection,) waving their hats, and shouting victory. 
In another minute they were entangled among the im- 
pediments which obstructed the glacis ; and then at 
last the New England muskets spoke. It may well be 
doubted whether so few men, in so small a space of 
time, had ever delivered a deadlier fire. Three German 
colonels went down, and a score of other officers ; and 
their soldiers fell in heaps. The boldest of them pushed 
their way across the ditch ; but they had no scaling- 
ladders ; and, encumbered by huge knapsacks and 


ponderous trappings, they tried in vain to shoulder 
each other up and over the smooth wall. The Re- 
publican galleys, — propelled by oars, and drawing 
little water, — stood close in shore, and enfiladed the 
right wing of the assailants with grape and round-shot 
at very short ranges. In forty minutes all was over. 
The Hessians retired from the contest, pursued by rifle- 
balls up to the verge of the forest, and then marched 
continuously through the night until they once more 
reached their ferry on the eastern bank of the Delaware 

The mortal character of the injuries inflicted bore 
witness to the accuracy with which Americans could 
shoot from behind cover. So far as the war north of 
the Potomac was concerned, it was a lesson that never 
required repeating. A hundred and twenty-seven 
Hessians lay dead in the trenches. The retreating 
column was accompanied by all the wounded who could 
bear to be carried, or helped along, by their comrades ; 
and twenty-two of these poor fellows were buried by 
the road-side on the way back to Philadelphia. Sixty 
more were left on the ground disabled. Colonel Greene 
did his very utmost to preserve their lives. He had, 
however, few medicines, and no wholesome food what- 
ever, to give them ; and forty died in the course of the 
next month. Hundreds of homes were left desolate in 
Germany ; but it was money in the Landgrave's pocket, 
inasmuch as he had stipulated for an extra payment of 
thirty crowns from the British Treasury for every one 
of his subjects who might be killed in action. Although 
the loss of the Americans had been small, they were 
too weak in number to venture upon liberties with the 
enemy, and they did not sally from the works until he 
had taken his final departure from their neighbourhood. 
Then they picked up three hundred excellent muskets, 
and captured a score of Hessians who had been waiting 
patiently between the ditch and the wall in preference 
to running the gauntlet of the bullets in an attempt to 
escape across the open. Colonel Von Donopwas found, 



with his thigh shattered, lying amidst the thick of the 
slain. He was treated, at Washington's particular 
instance, with all the respect and tenderness which his 
rank and his reputation demanded ; but he only sur- 
vived a week. A rude unsculptured stone marked his 
grave. His monument was left blank from a difficulty 
which both friends and foes acknowledged to be in- 
superable. After the battle of Trenton a German sub- 
altern had bethought himself of composing an epitaph 
for poor Colonel Rail ; but he could not word it to his 
satisfaction. And no wonder; for an inscription on 
the tomb of the brave men who were sent to their 
death in America by the Landgrave of Hesse was not 
an easy epitaph to write.^ 

That day was disastrous to our arms on water and 
on shore alike. Admiral Howe endeavoured to do his 
part loyally ; and the sight of the cannon-smoke from 
the American galleys, as they spread slaughter through 
the ranks of our German auxiliaries, stimulated our 
sailors to rashness, and even to recklessness. A British 
ship of the line, and a cruiser carrying sixteen guns, 
grounded in the shallows, caught fire, and perished by 
the explosion of their magazines. The spirit of Sir 
William Howe's army was depressed by these unforeseen 
reverses ; and worse news still remained to be unfolded. 
As far back as the eighteenth October, English officers 
had been puzzled and worried by a concerted discharge 
of artillery from all the American ships and batteries on 
the Delaware River. Something had evidently happened 
which pleased the adversary. Disagreeable rumours fil- 
tered through the Royal outposts ; and, after the lapse of 
a fortnight, certainty came. On the third day of Novem- 
ber Sir William Hov/e announced to the army in a Gen- 
eral Order that Burgoyne had capitulated at Saratoga. 

Such an extraordinary delay in the transmission of 
such important intelligence brought home to the appre- 
hension of the British in Philadelphia a very painful 

1 Simonides himself would have found it hard to turn a suitable couplet. 
"Go, stranger, and tell our master, the Landgrave, that we lie here, obedi- 
ent to his commands, having earned for him the price of a deer-park and 
an opera-house." 


sense of their own isolation. The increasing scarcity 
of provisions, fuel, and warm clothing had already 
begun to teach them how completely they were cut off 
from the outer world. The approach of a Pennsyl- 
vanian winter was severely felt l3oth by man and beast. 
The horses were in poor condition from cold weather, 
exhausted pastures, and a total lack of imported forage. 
The price of most articles essential to human existence 
was flying up at an alarming rate. Salt fetched six- 
teen shillings a bushel, and butter four shillings a pound. 
Very poor fresh meat was sold by the ounce, and each 
ounce cost twopence ; while wheat-flour could not be 
purchased. These sums were reckoned in hard money ; 
for the notes issued by Congress did not pass current 
inside the city; but luxuries might be smuggled through 
the lines by those who could afford to pay for them in 
Continental paper on the scale of four hundred dollars 
for a pound of green tea, and a thousand dollars for 
half a hundred-weight of loaf sugar. The soldier had 
a bad and insufficient ration ; and there was much 
suffering among the townspeople. The Tories, who 
were very miserable, had become sullen and dis- 
contented ; while citizens who favoured the Revolution 
were not so hungry as to refrain from feeling, and 
even expressing, keen satisfaction over this unexpected 
change in the military situation. Unless the provision- 
ships from New York could freely ascend the river, 
it would be impossible for Sir William Howe perma- 
nently to hold the town ; and another month of semi- 
starvation would reduce the British garrison, — for it 
was already a garrison rather than a field-force, — to 
a condition which would make it difficult for him even 
to retreat with safety.^ 

The deliverance of our beleaguered countrymen from 

1 Captain Montresor, Sir William Howe's Chief Engineer, made the fol- 
lowing entry in his private notebook : " We are just now an army with- 
out provisicns ; a rum artillery for Besieging; scarce any ammunition; 
no clothing, nor any money. Somewhat dejected l)y IJurgoyne's capitula- 
tion, and not elated with our late manrxjuvres, such as Donop's repulse^, and 
the Augusta and Merlin being burnt; and, (to complete all,) blockaded." 


these impending dangers was destined to be wrought, 
not by the hired valour of the foreigner, but by English 
energy and pertinacity exerted on that element where 
those national qualities have always been displayed to the 
best advantage. Lord Howe entertained friendly senti- 
ments towards the Americans, and was heartily grieved 
that he ever had accepted a command against them 
under a mistaken impression of the part which he was 
commissioned by the Cabinet at home to play ; but 
he had not the slightest intention of allowing them to 
snap their fingers at the Royal Navy, to blockade a 
British army, and to spoil his brother's campaign. Pre- 
parations for the siege of Fort Mifflin had already been 
commenced under circumstances of extreme difficulty. 
That redoubt was erected on an accumulation of 
vegetable soil washed down by the river, and compli- 
mented with the name of '' Mud Island." It was 
protected from naval attack on the southern quarter 
by extensive tracts of alluvial deposit, of which nothing 
could be seen at high water except the tops of the 
reeds. On the western side a channel five hundred 
yards broad, but so shallow and shifting as to be 
accounted impassable for sailing-vessels, separated the 
fortress from certain low islands which fringed the 
Pennsylvanian shore. They were a mere net-work of 
marshes, the paradise of the duck-shooter ; impervious 
for wheel-carriages ; and rescued from inundation by 
dykes, large portions of which the Americans had been 
careful to destroy. On this unpromising scene of opera- 
tions the British engineers had been working slowly, 
and rather hopelessly ; but, after the repulse at Fort 
Mercer, they applied themselves anew to their task with 
the unsparing activity of people to whom time was very 
precious, and money no object.^ Fatigue-parties of 
two hundred soldiers ; large gangs of jovial sailors, glad 
to find themselves on any description of land, wet or 
dry, that went by the name of a shore; and skilled 

^ Ever since November began, Lord Howe had been sending large 
9uantities of guineas up the river in boats, for the use of the British army. 


workmen from the city paid at the rate of ten shillings 
for the twenty-four hours, — were employed all day and 
all night until the business was accomplished. The 
breaches in the embankments were repaired, and care- 
fully guarded against any future attempts at mischief. 
Causeways were built across the swamp. Solid plat- 
forms for cannon were constructed at the river's edge ; 
and the batteries were armed with howitzers and large 
mortars, and with a good store of thirty-two pounder 
guns borrowed from the lower tiers of Lord Howe's 

After three weeks of intense and continuous labour 
all was ready ; and at dawn on the tenth November 
the bombardment commenced. Thundering across an 
interval of little more than two furlongs our artillery 
speedily dominated the fire of Fort Mifflin, and wrecked 
the whole enclosure. Blockhouses were reduced to 
heaps of rubbish, palisades shivered into splinters, and 
barracks so riddled by shot as to be entirely un- 
inhabitable. Strong parties of American militia were 
fetched over at night to repair damages, and sent back 
again to the mainland before morning ; for none except 
the best Continental regulars could be persuaded, or 
bribed, to remain during the hours of daylight in 
that place of torment.^ The garrison was maintained, 
by constant reinforcements, at a strength of three 
hundred men ; and in six days there occurred, within 
the circuit of the island, two hundred and fifty, — or, 
according to the British account, four hundred, — 
casualties. Several principal officers fell in quick 
succession ; and their places were supplied, without 

1 Washington promised a hundred pounds to every soldier who would 
join the garrison at Fort Mifflin, and see the siege out. 

Chance has preserved a scrap of conversation which passed in Fort 
Mifflin during the course of that week. Colonel Samuel Smith of Mary- 
land, who was in command until his turn to be wounded came, noticed 
that one of his staff officers did not hold his head steady when the cannon- 
balls flew over it. " What are you dodging for, Sir ? " said the Colonel; 
" the King of Prussia had thirty aides-de-camp killed in one day." 
"Yes, Sir," (the young man replied ;) " but Colonel Smith hasn't so many 
to lose." 


regard to rotation or seniority, by volunteers who were 
willing to undertake a most trying service, and to face 
a horrible scene. The troops in the fort, who had 
a notable infusion of Virginians amongst them, lay 
ensconced behind the ruins with their muskets loaded, 
waiting and praying for an assault by storm which 
never came. 

The British admiral, who was a judge of courage, 
perceived that the garrison would yield to nothing 
short of stronger measures, and more unusual modes 
of warfare, than had hitherto been adopted ; and he 
determined to deal with Fort Mifflin as if it were the 
flag-ship of a French squadron. Refusing to give 
credit on hearsay to the evil reputation of the channel 
which skirted the Pennsylvanian shore, he ordered that 
section of the river to be surveyed by competent naval 
officers, and marked out with buoys. On the fifteenth 
November he brought his battle-ships into action to 
the south of Mud Island ; while two of his captains, 
successfully threading the narrow and treacherous 
western passage, approached Fort Mifflin on the north 
until their yard-arms almost overhung the battlements, 
and raked the unfortunate island fore and aft. The 
Republican schooners and galleys, which might easily 
have overwhelmed that pair of bold intruders upon 
fenced and forbidden waters, held aloof from the 
combat ; and the garrison, left to its own resources, 
possessed no means of resistance whatsoever. Hand- 
grenades were thrown into the fort from the tops of 
the two British vessels ; and not a man could show 
himself on the platforms of the American batteries 
without being a mark for forty or fifty muskets. The 
cross-fire of heavy ordnance from sea and land was 
immense in volume, and appalling in effect. It was 
calculated that, in the course of twenty minutes, a 
thousand large projectiles came rushing in upon the 
defenders. Their few remaining cannon were almost 
immediately dismounted ; four fifths of their artillery- 
men had by this time been struck down ; and no angle 


of wall, or bank of earth, could afford them protection 
against the storm of missiles which swept across their 
islet from every quarter of the compass. The survivors, 
who dreaded nothing so much as the loss of their 
personal liberty, endured till nightfall ; and then, under 
veil of the darkness, they retired very deliberately 
across the eastern branch of the Delaware River, 
carrying with them their remnant of stores, and their 
large cargo of wounded. They made over to Lord 
Howe the blood-stained ruins, and the shattered can- 
non, as his prize of victory ; having borne themselves 
like worthy antagonists of as fine a seaman as ever 
paced a British quarter-deck.^ 

Our admiral had wrenched the key of the Delaware 
from his adversary's grasp ; and the door was soon 
flung wide open. On the nineteenth November Lord 
Cornwallis approached Fort Mercer at the head of ten 
battalions ; and the Republicans, knowing him for a 
man who was not disposed to trifle, evacuated the place, 
and so spared him the trouble of a siege, or the hazard 
of an escalade. The score and a half vessels of the 
American flotilla lay in the stream beneath the fort, 
moored in a snug berth, and very little the worse for 
wear. Their captains had never ventured within point- 
blank range of a hostile man-of-war ; their masts and 
spars were still intact ; and they had lost fewer than 
forty killed and wounded in a naval campaign which 
had already continued more than forty days. But 
their hour had now come. The rowing-galleys escaped 
against the current to Burlington; but the sailing-ships 
did not care to face our batteries at Philadelphia, and 
were mortally afraid of the Delaware frigate, which 
had behaved to perfection ever since it was transferred 

^ Captain Mahan appears to regard the behaviour of the garrison at 
Fort Mifflin as a presage and a forewarning that their country would never 
be subdued. "That same night," he writes, "the Americans abandoned 
Fort Mifflin. Their loss, (Beatson says,) amounted to nearly four hundred 
killed and wounded ; that of the British to forty-three. If this be correct, 
it should have established the invincibility of men who, under such pro- 
digious disparity of suffering, could maintain their position so tenaciously." 


to British hands. At four in the morning of the twenty- 
first November the American crews set themselves 
ashore on New Jersey, after putting fire to their own 
vessels. Sloops, brigs, and floating batteries, seventeen 
in all, drifted up-stream past the crowded wharves of 
the Pennsylvanian capital, with their rigging and sails 
blazing sky-high, their cannon going off as fast as the 
flames reached them, and their magazines exploding. 
Two hours afterwards the ebb-tide brought back again 
into view those of them which had not as yet been sunk 
or stranded; and the citizens of Philadelphia saw all 
that was to be seen of a pyrotechnic display for which 
they had paid a very full price, inasmuch as the 
Delaware fleet had stood the Republican taxpayer in 
half a milHon of pounds sterling. While one brother was 
gaining the mastery on the water, the other had been 
engaged in making the possession of his new conquest 
secure by land. A chain of fourteen redoubts, con- 
nected by a strong stockade, now covered a space of 
two and a half miles, extending from the Upper Ferry 
on the Schuylkill River to a point on the western shore 
of the Delaware above the town ; and the Royal troops 
were disposed along this line of fortification with the 
skill and particularity which Sir William Howe always 
applied to the arrangement of military details. Before 
the winter set in, the river had become a free and 
uninterrupted highway for British traffic ; while all the 
avenues leading into Philadelphia from the westward 
were inexorably closed to Washington. 



For six whole months to come the war stood still. Sir 
William Howe abode in peace and comfort at Philadel- 
phia ; while Washington, in his cheerless quarters out- 
side the city, found that he had more than enough to 
do in preserving his soldiers alive. But that half-year, 
during which all military operations of any consequence 
were entirely suspended, was marked by a series of 
occurrences and proceedings, — in both camps, in both 
countries, and on the Continent of Europe, — which 
had a potent influence upon the final issue of the 
American Revolution. 

During the period that elapsed between the begin- 
ning of December 1777, and the middle of June 1778, 
the question whether Great Britain could conciliate, 
pacify, and permanently and smoothly govern America, 
was tried out in a limited and securely protected 
locality, under every condition which could be ex- 
pected to ensure success. The eastern districts of 
Pennsylvania were a region signally favoured by 
nature, where agricultural industry was intelHgently 
pursued, and lavishly remunerated, without any irksome 
demand for excessive labour or over-anxious parsi- 
mony. " I bless God," wrote a farmer who sailed from 
Greenock in 1771, ''that I came here; and I heartily 
thank every man who encouraged me, and helped me 
to get the better of that fear which a man is under 
when he is to venture on so wide a sea." Two years 
after his arrival this good Scotchman was settled in a 
capacious house, standing on four hundred acres of his 



own land, which he and his sons had cleared. In Ren- 
frew and Lanark, (he said,) they always used to think 
it a great thing for the lairds that they possessed 
orchards ; and now he himself had planted two hundred 
fruit-trees, and was already gathering apples ; while 
cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons grew profusely in 
the open fields. His crops were heavy ; and his flock 
and herd, and still more his drove of swine, increased 
fast. Good food was everywhere abundant ; and yet, 
though the consumer had high times, the producer 
found no cause for complaint or despondency. *' This," 
(so the writer went on to say,) " is the best poor man's 
country in the world ; for the price of provision is 
cheap, and the price of labour is dear. But this 
country is chiefly profitable to those farmers who bring 
along with them one, two, or three hundred pounds. 
Such farmers can afford to eat good pork, beef, or 
mutton as often as those who pay one, two, or three 
hundred pounds of yearly rent in Scotland." ^ East 
Pennsylvania was full of the right sort of emigrants, 
who came to stay, who were not sparing of their own 
personal labour, and who did their full duty by the 
land which afforded them a comfortable home, — and, in 
the case of many German refugees, a much-needed 
asylum. The Dutch farmers, (we are told,) employed 
between eight and nine thousand waggons in bringing 
their produce to Philadelphia. " As they gathered in 
hundreds along Market Street, with their six and eight 
mammoth horses, surmounted by bells, they presented 
a scene to be found nowhere else on earth, unless, 
indeed, the assemblage of some vast caravan in Asia 
might be likened thereto." ^ 

The householders in the counties of eastern Penn- 
sylvania had no relish for war, and little inclination 
towards rebellion. The Germans, indeed, (ill as some 
of them could pronounce the word,) were Whigs almost 

^ Letter from Alexander Thomson, of Franklin County, Pennsylvania ; 
in the year 1773. 

2 A Walk to Darby ; by Townsend Ward. 


to a man ; ^ but Tory sentiments prevailed among the 
English-speaking residents in large villages, and the 
occupiers of extensive farms. Their loyalty was not 
demonstrative, and in respect of devotion and self- 
sacrifice it fell very far short of the standard set forth 
in the Marquis of Montrose's little poem ;2 but they had 
enough of it to make Washington's existence a burden 
to him as long as King George's army remained in 
their neighbourhood. They gave Sir William Howe a 
good deal of valuable military information gratis ; and 
they sold him the pick of their stables at long prices, — 
a traffic which the American Commander-in-Chief, who 
had a Virginian's susceptibility in any case where the 
ownership of a fine horse was concerned, endeavoured 
to repress by the exercise of what, for him, was unusual 
severity. Above all, they shirked service in the local 
Republican militia ; they offered as much as fifty 
guineas to anyone who would enlist in their stead ; 
and, if they could not provide themselves with a sub- 
stitute, they stopped at home whenever their regiment 
was called into the field, and persuaded their friends 
and dependents to follow their example. Washington 
ruefully contrasted his own very poor show of Penn- 
sylvanians with the eager throng of New Englanders 
and New Yorkers who had rallied to the defence of the 
Republic at Saratoga. Fourteen thousand men, (he 
wrote,) were actually in General Gates's camp; — the 
best yeomanry in the land, well armed with their own 
private weapons, and supplied with provisions of their 
own carrying. " How different," the General ex- 
claimed, ** is our case ! The disaffection of a great 

^ " Of the nineteen members of the Pennsylvanian Assembly, who 
voted against the submission of the Constitution to a vote of the people, 
not one was a German ; and of the forty-three who voted in favour of it, 
twelve were Germans." The Pennsyhania Dutchman, and wherein he 
has excelled; by the Hon. Samuel W. Pennypacker, LL.D. 
2 " He either fears his fate too much. 
Or his deserts are small, 
Who dares not put it to the touch 
And win, or lose, it all." 


part of the inhabitants of this State, the languor of 
others, and the internal distraction of the whole, have 
been among the great and insuperable difficulties which 
I have met with, and have contributed not a little to 
my embarrassments in this campaign." ^ 

Philadelphia closely resembled the province of 
which it was the capital in material opulence, in 
amenity of aspect, and in the political complexion of 
its inhabitants. Already large enough to be a centre 
of accumulated wealth, and high civilisation, it had not 
as yet outgrown the spacious and convenient site which 
had been discovered for it by the unerring judgment 
of its founder. Travellers from Europe, where a town 
was often a tortuous maze of dwellings crowded within 
the narrow limits of an ancient rampart, admired the 
straight and uniform thoroughfares, sixty or a hundred 
feet broad, which crossed each other at right angles in 
William Penn's city. Well paved, adequately lighted, 
scrupulously clean, — and completely, though very 
economically, equipped with educational, scientific, 
social, medical, and charitable institutions, — Phila- 
delphia bore visible witness, in all its corners, to the 
touch of Benjamin Franklin, the most effective, and 
undoubtedly the most rational and unpretentious, 
municipal reformer that the world has ever seen. 
A beautiful feature was the girdle of foliage which 
encircled the body of the place beyond the point where 
the interior streets began to lose themselves in the 
rural suburbs. One main approach to the town ran 
in spring-time through a continuous mile of peach- 
blossoms. The residences of the leading merchants 
stood amidst gardens and deer-parks, and avenues of 
fine trees which the owner pleased himself by thinking 
that William Penn had planted. Within the houses 
everything was handsome and costly ; — the libraries 
stored with subscription-copies of books from the 

1 Washington to Major General Armstrong, March 27, 1778 ; to Patrick 
Henry, Governor of Virginia, Nov. 13, 1777; to Landon Carter, October 27, 


most celebrated presses of France and England ; the 
Gobelin tapestry of the sofas ; the brocaded chairs ; 
the blue and white tiles round the fire-places ; and 
the full-length mirrors let into the folding-doors, which 
would have been much better away. The eating and 
drinking were the best, and the clothes the most ex- 
pensive and fanciful, in America. Up to the eve 
of the Revolution many of the Quaker ladies had no 
distinctive costume; and, when they ceased to wear 
colours, the rich fabrics in which they still indulged 
formed a very imposing back-ground to brighter 
dresses. Philadelphian public Assemblies, with their 
abundance of exceedingly eligible partners, attracted 
dancers from all the Central Colonies ; and famous 
dancing-masters came over from Europe, and throve as 
they could not thrive at home. Half a generation be- 
fore the Declaration of Independence forty chariots 
and landaus were already counted in the streets of Phila- 
delphia. During the next fifteen years private equi- 
pages increased rapidly in number; and ornamental 
coach-building, which in those days was an art as well 
as a trade, obtained a place among the recognised in- 
dustries of the town.^ 

The seeds of disaffection and revolt were slow to 
germinate in so rich a soil. John Adams, in one of his 
sweeping and rather savage generalisations, described 
Philadelphia as a mass of cowardice and Toryism. ^ 
The Quakers, who were anything rather than cowards, 
and who frequently showed more courage in refusing to 
fight than a good many noisy partisans on either side 
displayed in the hour of battle, had solemnly and 
officially declared themselves to be Followers of the 
Prince of Peace. So they announced at their yearly 
Meeting in the Fall of 1776; and subsequently to that 
date things had happened which were not of a nature 

^ Kalm's Tra7)eh. Philadelphia , the Place and the People, by Agnes 
Repplier. Extracts from the Day-books of Messrs. Quarici and Hunter ; 
between Seven and Eight Street, Philadelphia. 

'^ Adams' s Diary ) September 18, 1777. 


to reconcile them with the Revolution. The Fourth 
of July 1777 had been commemorated with every cir- 
cumstance that they most disliked ; — explosions of 
gunpowder all through the day ; in the evening, a 
banquet with warlike toasts, and tickets of admission 
purchasable by Republican bank-notes in place of solid 
shillings ; and, as soon as night arrived, a brisk smashing 
of Quaker windows. When the British army reached 
the Chesapeake, and Philadelphia became seriously 
threatened, Congress ordered the arrest and deportation 
of those influential citizens who would not profess 
allegiance to the New Constitution ; and of twenty 
recusants no fewer than seventeen were Friends. They 
were removed from their pleasant houses, mildly re- 
monstrating, and conveyed in waggons to Winchester 
in the Shenandoah Valley.^ Here they were detained 
in a very liberal confinement, living in separate board- 
ing houses of their own selection, making themselves 
generally liked in Virginian society, and indoctrinat- 
ing all whom they met with their own distrust and 
detestation of the Continental paper-money. Two of 
them died in the course of the winter ; and Congress 
grew ashamed of the treatment which had been in- 
flicted upon these excellent and innocent persons. 
Washington, who understood their scruples and re- 
spected their character, exerted himself actively on 
their behalf; and early in April 1778 he had the 
satisfaction of passing them through his outposts, 
and forwarding them safely home to their families in 
Philadelphia. That is the story of the company of 
men whom the members of their body still honour 

^ Captain Graydon met the party of Friends on their road southwards. 
They had amongst them a man of the world to act as courier, in the 
person of a fencing-master who was a stout and honest Loyalist. " His 
red coat and laced hat were very strikingly in contrast with the flat brims 
and drab coloured garments of the rest of the assembly. Friend Pike, as 
he was called, officiating in the capacity of a major-domo, or caterer, at 
the inns they put up at, was a person, I found, of no small consequence 
with his party." Me?noirs of a Life Chiejiy passed in Philadelphia ; 
Chapter 12. 


under the title of the Virginian Exiles. Sharper perse- 
cutions have been chronicled in political, and still more 
in religious, history ; but it is hardly surprising that the 
Philadelphian Quakers remembered King George with re- 
gret, and would have been glad to get him back again 
under quiet conditions, and upon reasonable terms. ^ 

Outside the Society of Friends, Philadelphian opinion 
was more equally distributed between Whig and Tory. 
That fact is established by the records of a famous 
dining club, instituted under the patronage of an ancient 
hero whose name has been connected with more than one 
powerful organisation the nature and objects of which 
he would probably have found it very difficult to com- 
prehend. King Tammanend was the Delaware chief 
who in Sixth Month, 1684, made over to William Penn 
three hundred square miles of fertile land for the con- 
sideration of so much wampum, and so many guns, shoes, 
stockings, looking-glasses, blankets, and other goods, as 
the said William Penn should be pleased to give. Those 
were the terms of the agreement ; and the inventory of 
articles which the Indian monarch was content to 
accept in exchange for his real estate does not suggest 
any exalted notion of his sagacity. And yet, however 
much he may have lacked the most valuable endow- 
ment of that serpent whose effigy he affixed as a signa- 
ture to legal documents, Tammanend was no common 
personage. He is represented as of noble mien and 
fine natural courtesy ; his tribesmen remembered him 
with veneration ; and the tradition of his extraordinary 
popularity among the white settlers is the origin of 

1 Washington's tranquil and upright mind harboured a genuine sym- 
pathy with the pure motives, and inflexible consciences, of the Quakers. 
Many years afterwards, when he was President of the United States, he 
asked one of them on what principle he had been opposed to the Revo- 
lution, "friend Washington," was the reply, "upon the principle that 
I should be opposed to a change in the present government. All that 
was ever secured by Revolution is not an adequate compensation for the 
poor mangled soldiers, and for the loss of life and limb." " I honour 
your sentiments," replied the President ; " for there is more in them 
than mankind has generally considered." The Quakers in the Revolution^ 
by Isaac Sharpless, President of Haverford College, 



that curious immortality which he now, more than ever, 
seems hkely to retain. Englishmen and Scotchmen, 
Welshmen and Irishmen, who had made their homes in 
the colonies, were in the habit of toasting their patron 
saints with flowing bumpers whenever their appointed 
days came round ; while native-born Americans, with no 
Saint Andrew or Saint Patrick of their own to celebrate, 
watched these jovial proceedings with a sense of envy, 
and at last of emulation. On the First of May, 1772, a 
hundred and twenty Pennsylvanians dined together for 
the first time in the character of the Sons of Saint Tam- 
many of Philadelphia. They were the most important 
society of men then alive in their own, or any other, 
colony. When the Revolution broke out they took dif- 
ferent sides ; many of them became prominent cham- 
pions in their respective camps ; and a very careful and 
authentic analysis of that list of citizens has proved that 
they were, as nearly as possible, evenly divided on the 
political issues of their time.^ 

So closely adjusted was the balance of the two parties 
in Philadelphia when hostilities commenced. Matters 
had greatly altered in September 1777. By that time 
the city had been emptied of all who were ambitious to 
assist the Revolution with their counsels, or to strike a 
blow for it in the field. The more fiery spirits had long 
ago disappeared from civil life. Many young men of 
the upper or middle class, and some who were no longer 
young, had thrown up their commercial or professional 
prospects, and hurried in arms to the front ; while with 
little hesitation, and less than no compunction, scores 
upon scores of strapping apprentices had broken their 
indentures, and sought impunity and glory in a regi- 

^ As members of the Club, who supported the Revolution, it is only 
necessary to name the Cadwaladers and the Mifflins, President Reed and 
President Wharton, Doctor Benjamin Rush, and David Rittenhouse the 
astronomer ; while among the sons of Saint Tammany opposed to Inde- 
pendence were John Dickinson and Joseph Galloway, Governor Franklin, 
Governor Hamilton, Chief Justice Chew, and Judge Shippen. The 
Society of the Sons of Saint Tainmany of Philadelphia ; by Francis Von 
A. Cabeen. 


ment of the Continental Line.^ A great number of 
townsmen were absent from their homes, exercising 
various, and most indispensable, functions in the service 
of the Republic. Pennsylvania sent the largest, and 
perhaps the most distinguished, delegation to Congress ; 
and Congress had repaired for shelter to the town of 
York, ten miles on the safe side of the Susquehanna 
River, until the storm blew over. By far the ablest 
American administrator was Robert Morris of Phila- 
delphia ; and Morris, with others of his fellow-citizens 
who held office in the War and Finance Departments, 
was under the obligation of following the central gov- 
ernment to its temporary place of refuge. Non-official 
society, moreover, had been woefully thinned during 
the course of the past twelvemonth. In the autumn 
of 1776, when Fort Washington had fallen, and the 
capital of Pennsylvania lay at the mercy of an invader, 
the wealthier partisans of Independence had hastily re- 
moved their families, and their most highly prized goods, 
out of reach of the Hessians ; and they were still living 
in comfortless banishment throughout the least exposed 
districts of the Confederacy. The bad news from the 
Brandywine fairly cleared out the last of the rich Whigs.^ 
There remained behind in Philadelphia those men who 
were Loyalists by conviction, and a considerable multi- 
tude of less estimable people who had not risen to the 
intellectual level of possessing any convictions at all. 
*' Till we arrived," said an officer of the British Guards, 
" I believed it was a very populous city ; but at present 
it is very thinly inhabited, and that only by the canaille 
and the Quakers." It is a striking proof of the preva- 
lence of education, and the strength of public spirit, 
in an American colony, that circumstances and motives 

^ The day-books of David Evans, the leading cabinet-maker of Phila- 
delphia, show the follovving entries for the year 1777 : 

" April 20. Zachariah Brant, my apprentice, enlisted in Captain Hender- 
son's Company, Ninth Battalion, without my consent. 

May 12. John Justice absconded from my shop, and entered the army 
as Ensign of Eleventh Battalion, without my approbation." 

2 <• Most of our warm people have gone off." Mrs. Henry Drinker's 
Diary for Sept. 25, 1777. 



connected with the personal creed of the individual had 
in two years reduced the population of a single town 
from thirty thousand to twenty thousand souls. For 
every native-bred inhabitant of either sex, over the age 
of ten years, at least one Royal soldier was now quartered 
within the city. If the attempt to heal political maladies 
by the drastic remedy of a miUtary occupation could 
succeed anywhere, it must have succeeded in Phila- 
delphia ; and it may fairly be said that the specific 
which had, from the very first, commended itself to 
George the Third and his Cabinet, would never again 
meet with an equally favourable trial. 

The owners of house property in the captured city 
had cause to tremble. Two years previously the states- 
men in Downing Street had directed our naval and 
military commanders to destroy any place in America, 
large or small, where congresses or committees had 
assembled. That order had never been revoked, and 
it was very far indeed from being a dead letter. Several 
flourishing sea-ports had been laid in ashes ; and Kings- 
ton on the Hudson River, which contained nearly four 
thousand people, was deliberately burned down by one 
of the Royal generals, in the course of this very autumn, 
on the express ground that it was a focus of disaffec- 
tion, or, (as the general himself preferred to put it,) 
" a nursery for every villain in the country." If it was 
a capital crime for a town to have bred famous Whigs, 
and to have been the theatre of action for Revolutionary 
congresses and committees, Philadelphia, — the home of 
Benjamin Franklin, the seat of the First and the Second 
Congresses, and the workshop of that committee which 
had drawn up the Declaration of Independence, — could 
not reasonably claim exemption from the doom which 
had already overtaken less guilty communities. But, if 
the British ministers desired to extend to the capital 
of Pennsylvania the barbarous policy which they had 
applied to Norfolk and Falmouth, they would have to 
look for other instruments than those gallant soldiers 
who had fought their way to victory across the Brandy- 


wine and the Schuylkill Rivers. Sir William Howe, 
although he failed in restraining the excesses of his Ger- 
man auxiliaries, was himself a kindly, honest gentleman ; 
and the Earl of CornwaUis, who inspired the energies, 
and kept the conscience, of the British army, was then, 
as always, the incarnation of chivalry and humanity. 
After he entered Philadelphia, the town-mansion of a 
rich merchant had been appointed for his headquarters ; 
but, when the lady of the house '* represented to him 
that it would be impossible for her to remain under her 
own roof with so large a company of soldiers and ser- 
vants, he courteously expressed his unwillingness to 
cause her annoyance, and he took himself that very 
afternoon to other lodgings." ^ A great majority of the 
British officers treated their civilian hosts with consider- 
ation and friendliness. Affable, easily pleased, — and, 
according to modern notions of the relation between 
age and military rank, delightfully and preposterously 
young, — they tried to make themselves endurable and, 
to the best of their ability, even welcome guests. Henry 
Drinker was a LoyaHst Quaker, and one of the Virginian 
exiles; and Mrs. Drinker, in her husband's enforced 
absence, was much disconcerted when an English field- 
officer installed himself in her house and premises with 
a train of white and black servants, horses, cows and 
sheep, and a whole poultry-yard of hens and turkeys. 
But the Major proved to be a thoughtful, well-con- 
ducted, and teachable youth, over whose morals she 
carefully watched, and whose modest displays of hospi- 
tality towards his brother officers she took pleasure in 
promoting and regulating. Certain men of fashion and 
title, who had come straight from Ministerial circles in 
London, were prepared to be rude, and rather brutal, 
in their dealings with the native population ; but these 
ill-conditioned personages were kept in order by the 
unconcealed disapproval of their comrades. " Lord 
Lindsey has arrived here;" (so Richard Fitzpatrick 
wrote from Philadelphia ;) " but his ton is too bad even 

1 Philadelphia, the Place and People ; Chapter 13. 


for this part of the world, and nobody can bear him." ^ 
Those delegates to Congress, who came from less 
wealthy colonies, had been scandalised by the luxury and 
extravagance which prevailed in the capital of Pennsyl- 
vania. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia called the city 
**an attractive scene of debauch and amusement; " and 
to James Lovell of Massachusetts it was before every- 
thing else ** a place of crucifying expenses." Phila- 
delphia, in both respects, more than maintained its 
character during the memorable winter when it lodged 
Sir William Howe and his army. After the river had 
been unblocked by the surrender of Fort Mifflin, an 
early tide brought up the Delaware a hundred and 
twenty sutlers and hucksters, Tories all, and Scotchmen 
nearly to a man. They distributed amongst themselves 
the most desirable places of business left vacant by the 
hurried departure of Whig traders, and filled the shop- 
fronts with goods which could be purchased only by 
hard money. So long as that precious commodity held 
out, abundance reigned in Philadelphia. The younger 
farmers braved very severe penalties in the event of 
their detection by Washington's scouts, and brought 
their well-laden horses into the British lines from many 
miles round about. The women, shunning the high- 
ways, and travelling by night across the fields, carried 
in upon their backs fowls, eggs, fresh meat, and choice 
vegetables ; and then returned to their villages with 
a pocketful of dollars and shillings, or, (what in the 
rural districts was then more coveted than silver,) a load 
of salt. There was often a plentiful beef-market ; and 
great cheeses from New Jersey lay in heaps along the 
town-wharf.^ The materials for hospitality were no 

1 This nobleman, in a letter to England, professed to pity the Royal 
officers who had been killed at Germantown " for having died by the 
hands of fellows who have hardly the form of men, and whose hearts are 
still more deformed than their bodies." 

2 Proceedings of the Historical Society of Philadelphia for March 1847. 
The History of Moor eland from the commencement of the American Revo- 
lution, by William J. Buck. Diary of Robert Morton. Philadelphia 
Society One Hundred Years Ago^ by Frederick D. Stone, 1879. 


longer lacking ; and, though even among Loyalists there 
were already some downcast faces and anxious hearts, 
the magnates of the city wished for nothing better than 
to see red coats round their table. Our British veterans, 
after a very short trial, pronounced the Philadelphian 
water too brackish to drink ; but there was great store 
of Madeira in the cellars, and the wine was not grudged 
or spared. The younger officers found ample and varied 
amusement in the weekly balls at the City Tavern ; the 
South Street theatre ; the race-course for which room 
had been made within the circuit of the forts; ''the 
cock-pit in Moore's Alley; the wild suppers at the 
Bunch of Grapes ; and the Club dinners, late and long, 
in the rooms of the Indian Queen." ^ 

The unmarried ladies of Philadelphia had never 
known so brilliant a season. Each of them had her 
individual preferences for scarlet, or for blue and 
yellow; but few among them were indifferent to a 
uniform as long as it was worn by a man of honour 
and prowess.^ When a beautiful girl was likewise an 
enthusiastic Loyalist, there were no bounds to the 
admiration which she excited in Royal officers of every 
grade from the Commander-in-Chief downwards. A 
letter exists from Miss Rebecca Franks, the daughter of 

1 Philadelphia, the Place and the People', Chapter 13. Mrs. Eliza- 
beth Drinker showed a motherly uneasiness about the effect of all this 
dissipation upon the young man whom she called " our Major." At 
first he was contented to give an occasional dinner to his comrades, who 
"made very little noise, and left at a reasonable hour." But, when the 
playhouse opened, he could not keep away from it ; and at last, on two 
evenings running, he stayed out till after midnight at a concert and a 
public ball. 

2 In the previous summer, when the American army was at German- 
town, Lieutenant MacMichael, of the Pennsylvania Line, wrote as 
follows in his diary: " August 3. The largest collection of young ladies 
I almost ever beheld came to camp. They marched in three columns. 
The field-officers detached scouting parties to prevent being surrounded by 
them. Being sent on scout, I at last sighted the ladies, and gave them to 
kn(;w that they must repair to Head-quarters ; upon which they accom- 
panied me as prisoners. But, on parading them at the Colonel's marquee, 
they were dismissed after we had treated them with a double bowl of 


a keen Tory, addressed, (deplorable to relate,) to the 
wife of a Signer. " You can have no idea," she wrote, 
" of the life of continued amusement I live in. I can 
scarce have a moment to myself. I spent Tuesday 
evening at Sir William Howe's, where we had a concert 
and dance. I asked his leave to send you a handker- 
chief to show the fashions. He very politely gave me 
permission to send anything you wanted, though I told 
him you were a Delegate's lady. Oh, how I wished 
Mr. Paca would let you come in for a week or two! 
Tell him I'll answer for your being let to return. You 'd 
have an opportunity of raking as much as you choose, 
at Plays, Balls, Concerts, or Assemblies. I have been 
but three evenings alone since we moved to town." ^ 
As seen from the outside by Tory husbands and fathers, 
who had remained in the rural districts in order to 
prevent their landed estates from going to rack and 
ruin, Philadelphia appeared to be an Elysium of felicity. 
James Allen, the member of a noted Loyalist family, 
sadly compared his own lot with that of his relatives 
who stayed behind in the city, bent on pleasure, and 
well supplied with coined money.'^ "There," he said, 
** I should have enjoyed ease and security, and freedom 
of speech, so long denied me here. . . . My wife writes 
me that everything is gay and happy, and it is like to 
prove a frolicking winter. The city is filled with goods : 
and provisions are plenty, though dear. Next campaign 
will be a warm, if not a decisive, one. It is impossible 
that this wretched country can subsist much longer." 

1 William Paca was a Congressman from Maryland. The passage 
quoted is condensed by the omission of a few sentences. 

Miss Franks, like a brave woman, stuck to her colours when adversity 
came. She accompanied her father into exile, married a Royal colonel, 
and made her home in England. Forty years afterwards, when the war of 
1812 was over and done with, she delighted General Winfield Scott by 
asking him whether he was the young rebel who had recently taken the 
liberty of fighting against His Majesty's troops at Chippewa Falls and 
Lundy Lane. 

2 Mrs. Allen, who had lately received a large present of Half Joes, — 
a Portuguese piece worth five and thirty shillings, — had gold to the amount 
of two hundred and forty pounds in hand. 


A strong personal interest attaches itself to some of 
the participators in that round of joyous frivolity ; for 
the British army contained an unusual proportion of 
young men with very noteworthy careers before them. 
Banastre Tarleton of the Light Dragoons, — who, during 
this respite from active warfare, was riding handicaps, 
and making love, with all the ardour of three-and- 
twenty, — was at present Brigade Major of Sir William 
Howe's cavalry. Before the American War ended, his 
fame as a leader of horse surpassed that of any officer, 
in any European service, who was still of an age to 
mount his charger. Cciptain Richard Fitzpatrick, an 
officer of the Guards, survived to hold military rank 
just below the very highest, and to acquire some 
distinction, and much popularity, in the House of 
Commons. And yet all which he accomphshed by 
sword or tongue was little in comparison with the cele- 
brity merited, rather than obtained, by his pen. No 
old-fashioned Whig, who loves a well-turned couplet, 
would admit that the author of The Liars, and of the most 
crisp and vivacious fragments of verse in the Rolliad, 
is inferior to any political satirist since John Dryden. 

This brilliant young Guardsman had acquired his 
taste for books at the feet of Burke, and in free- 
flowing cousinly discourse with Charles Fox ; but an- 
other promising officer, — who was seen more frequently 
than Fitzpatrick in Philadelphian society, and who 
took much greater pains to please it, — had served his 
apprenticeship in a very inferior literary school. 
Captain John Andre had been intended for civil life ; 
and, before he came of age, he was a prime favourite 
among a circle of people in the Midland counties of 
England who talked of themselves, and of each other, 
as poets, with less than no just claim to that appellation. 
Supreme among them was Miss Anna Seward, the 
Swan of Lichfield, whose odes and sonnets, even after 
this lapse of time, it would be ungallant to criticise, and 
almost unkind to quote ; while, on the other hand, her 
six volumes of letters arouse in the mind of the reader a 


wish that she had never written except in rhyme. Andr^ 
had fallen in love with Honora Sneyd, who then was 
domesticated in the Seward family, and who had so 
little sense of discrimination that, after rejecting her 
young admirer, she became the second among sev- 
eral successive wives of Richard Lovell Edgeworth. 
Andre tore himself away from the scene of his disappoint- 
ment, and sought occupation and change of thought in 
a military career. He became an admirable soldier. 
At this period he served as aide-de-camp to General 
Charles Grey, who would have none but the best about 
him ; and he very soon was appointed Adjutant General 
of the army in America. He heartily believed in the 
cause for which he fought, and he possessed qualities 
and accomplishments which recommended that cause to 
wavering politicians of his own, and still more of the 
other, sex. Under his inspiration the Enghsh officers 
gave a series of performances in the Philadelphia theatre, 
from which professional players, who never were more 
than barely tolerated in that Quaker city, had been 
scared away by the terrors of the Revolution. Andre 
himself was the most capable of the actors, the chief 
scene-painter, the cleverest designer of costumes, and 
the only member of the company who was both willing 
and able to compose a prologue.^ 

Captain Andre soon had the opportunity of display- 
ing his talents as a stage manager on a scale which 
made a considerable noise at the time, and has had its 
fair share of notice ever since. Six weeks before the 
end of 1777 Sir William Howe, finding the War Office 

1 Miss Seward, who was sincerely attached to Andre, and never ceased 
to lament his fate, always wrote about him with less than her usual 
affectation, and a somewhat firmer hold on the principles of grammar. ** I 
am at present," (so she told a correspondent in the year 1787,) "re-reading 
the, by me, often read scriptures of your idolatry, the great lyrist Gray's 
Epistles. . . . Andre's letters, published with my Monody on him, have, 
to me, much more fascinating beauty." Six years afterwards she says, 
in a letter from Buxton : "Again do I seem surrounded by that happy 
party, as in the long-vanished period which formed the ill-starred love of 
Andre and Honora. There it is that tender sighs, and starting tears, pay, 
in mournful luxury, the tribute of remembrance." 


deaf to his call for reinforcements, wrote home to the 
Secretary of State that he must beg to be relieved from 
his employment, as he no longer enjoyed the necessary 
confidence and support of his superiors. Lord George 
Germaine, who already foresaw the total collapse of his 
own absurd plan of campaign, and whose disloyalty 
matched his incompetence, resolved not to let slip this 
unexpected chance for proclaiming to the world at large 
that the general, and not the minister, was to blame. 
It was an easy matter to make Sir William Howe a 
culprit in the judgment of Englishmen. Taxpayers 
throughout the country laid at his door the indecisive 
character of those military results which had ill re- 
warded their enormous pecuniary sacrifices during the 
last forty months ; and the feeling against him was no- 
where so strong as among the talkers in London. Those 
gentlemen, (said Horace Walpole,) had subsisted " a 
whole fortnight on the capture of Mud Island ; " which 
was meagre diet for people who had lived through the 
glorious years of 1759 and 1760, when every wind 
brought tidings of substantial conquests from one or 
another quarter of the globe. George the Third's min- 
isters, like other weak and ill-conditioned rulers, had 
taken care to feed the newspapers with inspired para- 
graphs throwing contempt upon the adversaries with 
whom they were at war ; and their industry in calUng 
public attention to the paucity of American soldiers, 
and the misery and despair of the American people, 
had the natural effect of aggravating disappointment 
and discontent in England. " We were often told," 
(wrote the Morni7ig Post,) "■ that Mr. Washington's army 
was inferior in number to the British, — sickly, dying, 
ill-clothed, dispirited, and by no means so well-armed as 
our own troops." Why, (it was asked,) had not the 
valiant, highly-disciplined, and well-appointed Royal vet- 
erans swept such a rabble off the face of the universe ? 

That was the tone of the Whig orators, and, still 
more copiously and emphatically, of the Tory pamphlet- 
eers and journalists. To refrain from throwing over an 


ill-used, and only half successful, subordinate demanded 
a larger share of moral courage, and a finer sense of 
equity, than the Cabinet possessed. Early in February 
1778 Germaine informed Sir William Howe that his 
resignation was accepted, and that Sir Henry Clinton, 
who was then in England, had been chosen to succeed 
him in his command. The British in Philadelphia, to 
their credit, took a very different view of the situation 
from that which prevailed across the ocean. With the 
prescient instinct of a brave and proud army, they 
recognised in Sir Henry Clinton a general under whose 
leadership they would gain no laurels, and compared 
him very unfavourably with the masterly tactician who, 
(whatever his detractors might allege against him,) had 
won half a dozen pitched battles, and had seized the 
hostile capital. Accustomed to Sir William Howe's 
ways, and all the fonder of him for his faults, they 
loved him as an indulgent commander, and a hearty 
companion ; who lived and let live ; and who, when off 
duty, was as genial to his followers, high and low, as 
on the actual day of battle he was formidable to the 
enemy. When the news of his approaching departure 
reached the mess-tables in Philadelphia, the whole army 
eagerly caught at a proposal to send him off on his 
homeward journey with a farewell demonstration of 
gratitude, devotion, and regret which should be an un- 
spoken, but unequivocal, rebuke to the civilians in 
Downing Street. 

Sir William's soldiers resolved to give, in their gen- 
eral's honour, the most splendid festivity that the New 
World had ever witnessed. All ranks would gladly 
have subscribed towards the cost of the entertainment ; 
but a committee of wealthy field-officers took the entire 
expense upon themselves; and Andr6, who was not as 
yet a field-officer, was allowed a free hand in the ar- 
rangement of the spectacle. He was largely responsible 
for a fantastic exhibition of sham chivalry which would 
have appeared infinitely romantic to Anna Seward, and 
absurdly inaccurate to a genuine and sturdy antiquary 


like her contemporary, Doctor Percy. Captain Mon- 
tr^sor, with his sappers and miners, undertook to con- 
struct the military trophies, the triumphal arches, and 
the lists and barriers for a Passage of Arms which was 
to be the central feature of the show. Andre himself 
painted the decorations, selected the mottoes, and com- 
posed the amazing rhodomontades which were put into 
the mouths of those unlucky subalterns who consented 
to be disguised as Heralds. He flattered and cajoled 
the local beauties till they promised to grace the pag- 
eant ; and he furnished the pattern, and was not above 
assisting in the manufacture, of their draperies. The 
Meschianza, (he said,) had turned him into a capable 
milliner, and had initiated him in all the mysteries " of 
cap-wire, gauze, and needles." That confession was 
made in a letter addressed to the daughter of a Loyalist 
Judge, — Margaret Shippen, a girl of seventeen, who in 
the course of another year became the wife of Benedict 
Arnold. Long afterwards, when she had passed through 
a dangerous illness and a period of unspeakable m^oral 
anguish, Colonel Tarleton wrote out to America from 
London that she was still the handsomest woman in 
England. John Andre has left us a pencil-sketch of Mar- 
garet Shippen in her ball-dress, with her hair built up 
to a height of eighteen inches above the forehead. The 
artist and his sitter were a well-assorted, but, (little as 
they then knew it,) a most tragic pair.^ 

These daughters of Pennsylvania were reproached 
with levity and heartlessness by sober patriots on either 
side of politics. The stories of cold and hunger, disease 
and death, which all through the winter arrived from 
that exposed and dreary upland where Washington's 
soldiers were doing their best to keep body and soul 

^ According to a tradition preserved in the Shippen family the Judge, 
at the very last moment, forbade his daughter to appear in the procession, 
and the day was spent at home in t('ars. It has been the fate of this poor 
lady to be slightly over-praised, and profusely over-censured, by American 
controversialists ; and certain points of her conduct have been discussed in 
print at almost as great length as if they were circumstances in the personal 
history of Mary Queen of Scots. 


together, aroused the compassion even of strong Loyal- 
ists ; ^ and the American people in general were pained 
and shocked by the contrast between the suffering at 
Valley Forge, and the luxury and ostentation which ran 
riot within the city. It was remembered how, towards 
the commencement of the Revolution, the Philadel- 
phians had proposed to compliment Mrs. Washington 
by a public ball ; how Samuel Adams and President 
Hancock had begged her to discountenance the open 
pursuit of amusement during a great crisis in the for- 
tunes of the country ; and how earnestly she had as- 
sured the two statesmen that their wishes were in entire 
agreement with her own sentiments. ^ The Whigs kept 
the Meschianza in mind when their own hour of triumph 
came ; but it was not in an American's nature to deal 
harshly with women, and the penalty inflicted was the 
mildest that could sufilice to mark the offence. The 
return of Congress to Philadelphia was celebrated by a 
dance at the City Tavern, *' offered to the young ladies 
who had manifested their attachment to the cause of 
virtue and freedom by sacrificing every convenience to 
the love of their country; " and to that dance the hero- 
ines of the Tournament were not invited. 

The festival of the eighteenth May, 1778, fills as 
large a space in the chronicles of the early American 
RepubUc as did the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 
our own Tudor histories. The affair was called the 
Meschianza, — an Italian word that signifies " a Medley ; " 
and a medley it was. The ceremonies began with a 
Grand Regatta. Gaily decked barges, interspersed at 
intervals with bands of music, moved slowly down a 
line of war-vessels and transports which, with yards 
manned and colours flying, extended along the whole 

1 " How insensible do these people appear, while our land is so greatly 
desolated, and death and sore destruction has overtaken, and impends 
over, so many ! " That was the view held about the Meschianza by Mrs. 
Henry Drinker, whose husband had been punished for Loyalism. A col- 
lection of Tory opinions, very much to the same effect, is given in a note 
to the Introduction of Wharton's Diplomatic Correspondence. 

2 Martha Washington^ by Anne HoUingsworth Wharton j Chapter 6. 


river-front of the city. Then the company disem- 
barked on a noble lawn, where a square plot of four 
acres had been marked out for the Tournament. An 
EngHsh, and an American, Queen of Beauty sat facing 
each other at either extremity of the ground, attended, 
both of them, by a bevy of six damsels in Turkish 
habits and turbans. Six Knights, resplendent in 
crimson and white silk, and caracoling on grey steeds, 
rode forth to assert that the ladies of the Blended Rose 
excelled all others in wit and beauty ; and the chal- 
lenge was accepted by as many Knights of the Burning 
Mountain, in black and orange raiment, and on coal- 
black horses. A more impressive sight was the com- 
pact hedge of well-drilled infantry, planted stiff and 
silent around the whole enclosure. The cavaliers ran 
their tilts, shivered their lances, and then fired pistols 
at each other until the Marshal proclaimed that the 
ladies were satisfied with the proofs of love and valour 
given by their respective champions. When these 
antics were concluded, the actors and spectators walked 
in procession to an adjoining mansion, and passed, 
through a hall stained in imitation of Sienna marble, 
into a ballroom where the walls, picked out in blue 
and gold, were reflected in eighty or ninety enormous 
mirrors. At midnight there was a supper of twelve 
hundred dishes, lighted by as many wax-candles, and 
served by negroes in oriental trappings, with silver 
collars and bracelets. The lawn outside blazed with 
illuminations, and transparencies, and fountains spout- 
ing fire ; and the proceedings were terminated by the 
roar and rush of innumerable rockets. That was the 
last gunpowder which General Howe saw burned in 

^ The splash and notoriety of the Meschianza, when contrasted with 
the substantial value of the successes which it was designed to celebrate, 
were alien to British military sentiment everywhere outside Philadelphia. 
When General Eliott was preparing to leave Gibraltar, after his immortal 
defence of the Rock, the garrison desired to give him an entertainment, 
in order to mark their o])inion of his eminent services. An officer of high 
rank begged to know in what shape the compliment would be most agree- 
able to him. " Anything," replied the veteran, " but a Meschianza." 


Lord George Germaine's ill-conceived plan of attack- 
ing the citadel of the Revolution from three distant 
quarters had already been severely punished ; but, for 
the present, he escaped the full penalties of his faulty 
strategy by the misconduct of adversaries whose folly 
equalled, and whose perversity even exceeded, his own. 
Washington, indeed, had done more than his part on 
behalf of the common cause. At great risk to himself, 
he had depleted his scanty ranks, and despatched a 
generous supply of staunch veterans to the assistance 
of the Northern army in its hour of need. That army 
had triumphed, rapidly, completely, and far beyond 
the hopes of anyone except himself ; and Washington's 
own turn had now come to be helped by the general 
towards whose victory he had so largely and unselfishly 
contributed. It is impossible to doubt that, if Philip 
Schuyler had still been in command when the firing 
ceased at Saratoga, his best fighting men would have 
been started on their march down the Hudson Valley 
as soon as they had cleaned their gun-barrels. That 
was the course demanded alike by public spirit and 
personal gratitude ; but Schuyler's successor had little 
of the first, and of the latter much less than none at 
all. The very last person in the world whose interests 
General Gates would take any trouble, or make any 
sacrifice, to promote, was George Washington. Having 
ruined and supplanted Schuyler, Gates henceforward 
flew at higher game ; and he had not the smallest 
intention of taking any steps to ensure the success, and 
consolidate the influence, of that military leader whom 
he now regarded as his solitary rival. Burgoyne capit- 
ulated on the seventeenth of October ; and a fortnight 
afterwards Washington was reduced to petition, urgently 
and specifically, for the performance of a service which 
should have been done unasked. One of the gentle- 
men of his family, (to use his own expression,) was 
deputed to visit General Gates in order to point out 
the many happy consequences which would accrue 
from an immediate reinforcement being sent from the 


Northern army. The gentleman selected was Alex- 
ander Hamilton ; but his persuasive tongue altogether 
failed in recalling Horatio Gates to a sense of honour. 
The partisans of that intriguer induced Congress to 
pass a Resolution to the effect that the soldiers trans- 
ferred from the Northern army should in no case 
exceed two thousand five hundred men ; and the larger 
portion of this stingy detachment was intercepted and 
detained on its way southward. Only a very few regi- 
ments, thinned in numbers and behind their time, were 
eventually permitted to rejoin the American camp on 
the Schuylkill River. 

It is possible enough that, if Washington's hands 
had been loyally and promptly strengthened, Sir 
William Howe would have been forced to relinquish 
Philadelphia, and retreat across country to New York, 
before the year was over. While the contest for the 
Delaware was still in progress, five or six thousand 
additional troops would have enabled the Republicans 
to operate powerfully and decisively in the Jerseys 
without relaxing their grasp on Pennsylvania. But, 
before the end of November, Fort Mercer and Fort 
Mifflin had succumbed ; the British possessed the 
waterway, and had made the city proof against assault ; 
and Washington reluctantly abandoned his schemes 
and efforts for expelling the invader, and fell back 
upon the second-best. Bad as might be his prospects, 
they had been worse on that day twelvemonth. If 
Philadelphia had fallen in December 1776, it had been 
his purpose to retire beyond the Susquehanna River, 
and thence, (should misfortune still pursue him,) into 
the recesses of the Alleghany Mountains ; but in 
December 1777 he determined to remain at a point 
where he could hold the Royal foraging-parties in 
respect throughout the winter, and be near at hand, 
when spring came, to avail himself of the very earliest 
opportunity for turning the tables upon his adversary. 
He stationed his army on a piece of land a mile in 
depth, extending three thousand yards from east to 

VOL. IV. u 


west along the southern bank of the Schuylkill River. 
The ground on two sides fell away in acclivities of a 
height, and a slope, perfectly adapted for defence by 
cannon and musketry ; and the rear was protected by 
a stream which supplied water-power for an establish- 
ment of iron-works known as Valley Forge. That little 
village, clustered at the bottom of a deep ravine, gave 
a name to what, as time goes on, bids fair to be the 
most celebrated encampment in the world's history. 
On the eighteenth December the soldiers remained in 
quarters, taking their part in a public Thanksgiving 
which, with distress and danger around them, and 
starvation immediately in front of them, was something 
of a pathetic ceremony ; and next morning they spread 
themselves over hills thickly covered with that forest 
timber which an American army is always capable of 
putting to valuable uses. Washington, never happier 
than when handling a pencil and a pair of compasses, 
had drawn out the ground-plan of his military city.^ 
His rank and file were divided into parties of twelve, 
and directed to build cabins of a size and pattern 
minutely laid down in the General Orders ; and, in every 
one of his battalions, a prize of twelve dollars was 
promised to the squad of men who housed themselves 
most speedily and commodiously. As fast as their huts 
were finished, the gangs of workmen were passed on 
to the redoubts and intrenchments ; and before long 
the camp had become, to all intents and purposes, an 
impenetrable fortress.^ 

1 "The General has a great turn for mechanics. It's astonishing with 
what niceness he directs everything in the building way, condescending 
even to measure the things himself, that all may be perfectly uniform." 
Diary of Mr. John Hunter, a merchant from London y Mount Vernon, 
November 17, 1785. 

2 The American army never stopped long in any one place without 
fortifying it to the verge of impregnability. Colonel Boyle quotes the 
description given by an officer on Sir William Howe's Staff of the position 
occupied by Washington before he moved back upon Valley Forge. " For 
a quarter of a mile in front of the American camp was the thickest 
abattis of felled trees I ever saw, similar to what the French had last war 
at Ticonderoga ; and, had we proceeded, we should probably have shared 


It was well that these indispensable labours were 
brought to a conclusion before the spirit of the troops 
was deadened, and their bodily strength exhausted ; 
for they were very soon in evil case. The manage- 
ment of the war by a popular assembly was a 
system for which there had been something to say 
during the opening scenes of the Revolution ; but that 
system had entirely broken down under the stress of 
invasion and defeat. The delegates to Congress, 
whom Thomas Paine had inoculated with a British 
radical's distrust of paid officials, still preferred to do 
everything of importance themselves, and were now 
doing it very badly. Already the national senate of 
America had degenerated, from a business-like and 
respected representative body, into the thing which 
Englishmen, borrowing an old classical term from the 
most stirring period of English history, always have 
called, and always will call, a Rump. The most ex- 
perienced Congressmen were employed far away, — 
negotiating in foreign countries, and governing or 
fighting in distant regions of the Confederacy. Many 
a capable citizen, actuated by the intense local 
patriotism of an American, was absorbed in provincial 
politics, to the exclusion of any keen and intelli- 
gent interest in the central Government of his nation.^ 
During the last months of 1777 the sittings of Congress 
were attended by sixteen or seventeen, and sometimes 
only by nine or ten, members. This fluctuating handful 
of untrained, and for the most part insignificant, 
personages, — with co-equal powers, and no mutual 

the same fate with General Abercrombie's army. We reconnoitred for 
nine miles round the camp to sec if we could find any opening; but it 
was all equally strong." 

^ " This, more than ever, is the time for Congress to be filled with the 
first characters from every State, instead of having a thin Assembly, and 
many Slates totally unrepresented, as is the case at present. I have often 
regretted the pernicious, and what appears to me fatal, policy of having 
our ablest men empl.iyed in the formation of the more local Governments, 
leaving the great national concern to be managed by men of more con- 
tracted abilities." So George Washington wrote to his brother at the end 
of April, 1778. 

U 2 


understanding as to the distribution amongst them- 
selves of executive functions, — performed or neglected, 
as the humour took them, the whole administrative 
work of the State. 

These methods of proceeding had long ago been 
condemned by Robert Morris in precise and forcible 
language. If Congress, (he said,) meant to win in the 
struggle with Great Britain, they must pay good men 
to do their business as it ought to be done ; for no 
Delegate could attend to his senatorial duties, and at 
the same time serve his country in the capacity of an 
executive officer. ** I do aver," so Morris continued, 
** that there will be more money totally lost in horses, 
waggons, and cattle, for want of sufficient persons to 
look after them, than would have paid all the salaries 
that Paine ever did, or ever will, grumble at." The 
wisdom of these criticisms and recommendations was 
justified by the event. When affairs were taken out 
of the hands of boards, and given over -to competent 
individuals, — when single ambassadors superseded diplo- 
matic commissions in Europe, and chiefs of departments 
took the place of administrative committees at home, — 
then, and not till then, the long and weary conflict was 
at last brought to a successful issue. ^ 

A full year had elapsed since Robert Morris uttered 
his protest and his prophecy ; but the mind of Congress 
was still unchanged, and its practice had altered for 
the worse. The Commissary General of the American 
army, ever since hostihties commenced, had been 
Colonel Joseph Trumbull, the eldest and worthy son 
of the Governor of Connecticut. Acting in close and 
familiar concert with Washington he kept the soldiers 
amply, and often lavishly, supplied with victuals when- 
ever the camp was stationary ; and, in those black 
months when forced marches, and repeated defeats, 
brought their inevitable consequences in the shape of 
want and hardship, it was very generally admitted that 

^ This sentence is extracted, almost word for word, from The Life of 
Robert Morris^ by Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, Ph.p. 


the Chief of the Commissariat was not to blame. 
The recognised success of an arrangement which 
pleased the army, and by this time had been brought 
into smooth working order, was too much for the 
equanimity of Congress. Towards the middle of the 
|ar 1777 the politicians at Philadelphia, in their 
ilousy of military administrators, estabHshed a rule 
Lt subordinate agents, in the service of the Com- 
ssariat, should account directly with Congress over 
head of their departmental superiors. Colonel 
[umbull, after an honest and patient attempt to 
•ry forward his duty under these new and impossible 
iditions, threw up his employment, and retired into 
[vate life.^ He was soon followed by the Quarter- 
:ster General, who went to his home on the plea of 
lealth, and after a while sent in his resignation. 
Never did a set of public men commit a greater blun- 
der from a poorer motive. Even Horatio Gates, who 
seldom permitted himself to question the policy of 
Congress, confessed that " such a solecism was hardly 
ever committed as changing the Commissariat in the 
middle of a campaign." ^ Other Governments, with 
disastrous results, have sometimes swapped horses when 
crossing a stream ; but the folly of Congress went 
altogether beyond a metaphor which is supposed to 
express the quintessence of human fatuity. Their 
Quartermaster General had ceased, in the summer of 
1777, to discharge those duties upon which the well- 
being, and in extreme cases the very existence, of an 
army in the field depends ; and no successor was 

1 Colonel Trumbull told his father, in July 1777, that he was about 
to meet a Committee of Congress, on the affairs of his Department, which 
were wholly at a stand. " I am almost fatigued to death," he wrote. 
*' I have been obliged to stand at the scales myself. All the money in 
the universe would not tempt me to serve another three months such as 
the last." In the course of the year the Colonel died, — killed, if ever 
man was, by hard work. His story is set forth in Jonathan Trumbull's 
noble and touching Memorial to the President of Congress. Trumbull 
Papers ; Part III., pages 279-282. 

^ Horatio Gates to Jonathan IrumbuU; September 4, 1 777. 


appointed until the month of March in the year that 
followed. During the later part of that protracted 
interval American military history presents a monoto- 
nous tale of cruel, and altogether unnecessary, suf- 

The effect of this calamitous policy, clearly per- 
ceptible from the very first, was brought into startling 
prominence as soon as ever Washington had settled 
himself down at Valley Forge. On the twentieth 
December, General Varnum of Massachusetts reported 
that his division had eaten no meat during forty-eight 
hours, and had been three whole days without bread. 
Next morning the Commander-in-Chief wrote to the 
President of Congress that ominous symptoms of dis- 
content in several of the regiments " had brought forth 
the only Commissary in the purchasing line in camp, and, 
with him, this melancholy and alarming truth that he 
had not a single hoof of any kind to slaughter, and not 
more than twenty-five barrels of flour ; " and the same 
gentleman admitted, on cross-examination, that he was 
not aware whence, or when, any additional supply 
would be forthcoming. Dearth was converted into 
famine ; and famine endured over the space of two live- 
long months. As late as the sixteenth February 1778, 
according to Washington, "a part of the army had 
been a week without any kind of flesh, and the rest 
three or four days." Evening after evening the cry of 
** No Meat ! No Meat ! " could be heard along the line of 
huts. Some of the generals, wrung with pity for their 
followers^ tried to persuade themselves that the English 
race was unduly addicted to a diet of animal food, and 
suggested a substitute in the shape of soaked wheat and 
sugar, or soup *' thickened with bread." ^ On those 
many days when there were no emaciated bullocks to 
be killed for food, vitality was maintained on a porringer 

^The notion of making soup without stock gave rise to some grim 
jests among the rank and file. There was a story current in the 
American army of a well-meaning officer who inquired what the men were 
cooking in their kettle. "A stone, Colonel : " was the reply. "They say 
there is some strength in stones if you can get it out." 


of flour-paste, or a lump of dough baked in the embers. 
All ranks fared alike ; and the medical staff shared the 
ration of the private soldiers, three-fourths of whom 
were qualified to be patients if there had been any 
tonics or cordials with which to treat them. In the 
middle of September, by a special vote of Congress, 
thirty hogsheads of rum had been served out to the 
troops ** in compliment for their gallant behaviour at 
the battle of Brandywine ; " but, all through the win- 
ter, there was only one beverage on draught at Val- 
ley Forge. " Fire-cake and water for breakfast ! " 
cried Doctor Albigence Waldo. " Fire-cake and water 
for dinner ! Fire-cake and water for supper ! the Lord 
send that our Commissary for Purchases may live on 
fire-cake and water ! " Life in that camp was a dull 
and drawn out tragedy; but not a few of its inmates, 
after the habit of American humourists, accepted their 
misfortunes with ironical acquiescence. Doctor Waldo 
had been at pains to enumerate in his diary the resi- 
dential attractions of a place like Valley Forge. There 
was, (he wrote,) plenty of wood and water; and the 
hill-side faced the south. The soldiers had no tempta- 
tion to plunder, for there was nothing to steal. They 
all of them would learn to be heavenly-minded, like 
Jonah in the belly of the great fish ; and no one need 
be home-sick, because the reflections suggested by his 
surroundings would lead him to employ his leisure hours 
in filling his knapsack with the necessaries required 
for the journey to another, and a better, home. 

That was indeed the case, in sad and stern earnest. 
Before the army reached Valley Forge nearly three 
thousand of the rank and file were returned unfit for 
duty *'by reason of their being barefoot, and otherwise 
naked." ^ Washington, in an outspoken and eloquent 
exposition of the future which awaited his unfortunate 
army, told how the troops, for want of blankets, were 

^"The Commander-in-Chief offers a reward of ten dollars to any 
person who shall, by nine o'clock on Monday morning, produce the best 
substitute for shoes, made of raw hides." General Washington's Orderly 
Book for November 22, 1777. 


obliged "to sit up all night by fires, instead of tak- 
ing comfortable rest in a natural and common way." 
" Soap, vinegar, and other articles allowed by Congress," 
(so ran another sentence of the same letter,) *' we see 
none of ; nor have we seen them, I believe, since the 
battle of Brandywine. The first, indeed, we have little 
occasion for, few men having more than one shirt, 
many only the moiety of one, and some none at all." ^ 
Hardly anyone was comfortably clad ; a great number 
of soldiers lacked even the means of decency; and 
every trace of military finery had long ago vanished. 
Officers mounted guard in a sort of dressing-gown, 
made of an old rug, or a woollen bed-quilt, and kept 
what remained of their uniforms against the return of 
better times. Months afterwards, when the worst was 
over, a party of aides-de-camp gave a supper to which 
no one, who possessed a whole suit, was admitted ; 
and the room was crowded with distinguished guests. 

Anthony Wayne reported, in passionate language, 
that near a third of his men had no shirt under Heaven, 
and that their outer garments hung about their limbs in 
ribbons. He had purchased for them, (he stated,) from 
his own pocket, a large quantity of stout cloth ; but 
the Clothier General held the proceeding to be irregular, 
and refused to issue the material which he had in store. 
Wayne had always loved to see his people smart, and he 
now could not endure the consciousness that they were 
miserable. " I am not fond of danger ; " — so he wrote 
of himself, although no one else would have said it 
about him ; — " but I would most cheerfully agree to 
enter into action once every week in place of visiting 
each hut in my encampment, which is my constant 
practice, and where objects strike my eye and ear whose 
wretched condition beggars all description. The whole 
army is sick, and crawling with vermin." Meanwhile 
hogsheads of raiment, and footgear, were lying at dif- 
ferent places along the roads and in the woods, spoiling 

^ Washington to the President of Congress ; Valley Forge, 23 Decem- 
ber, 1777. 


For want of teams, or of money to pay the teamsters. 
The Commander-in-Chief had warned Congress that 
nilitary arrangements, ** Hke the mechanism of a clock, 
nust necessarily be imperfect and disordered by want 
)f a part;" and, in the absence of a Quartermaster 
jeneral, the Transport Service was now a clock with- 
)ut the weights. '' Perhaps by midsummer," wrote 
Washington, '' the soldier may receive thick stockings, 
ihoes, and blankets, which he will contrive to get rid 
Df in the most expeditious manner. By an eternal 
*ound of the most stupid management the public 
:reasure is expended to no kind of purpose, while the 
nen have been left to perish by inches with cold and 

Winter descended, in all its horrors, upon the 
'amished and ragged army. On Christmas-day the 
iveather broke, and next morning the snow lay four 
nches deep. It remained piled up against, and be- 
:ween, the huts in high and solid drifts ; for the first 
downfall was followed by a long procession of clear and 
^^ery cold days, with nights of bitter frost. '* When 
;he trampled mud froze suddenly, the rough ridges 
A^ere like knives ; and, although men cut up their 
Dlankets, and bound the stripes about their feet, the 
lesh was soon as unprotected as before." ^ The white 
ground, in and about the camp, was everywhere marked 
,vith crimson stains. High-born officers of the Hessian 
'egiments in Philadelphia professed to disbelieve that 
:here could be any want of shoes in an army where so 
nany of the Colonels had formerly been cobblers by 
;rade ; but Lafayette, who was another sort of noble- 
nan, related with deep feeling how the feet and legs of 
nany poor fellows were congealed and blackened till 
ife could only be saved by amputation. When off duty 
:he men never stirred outside their cabins, which, (as 
:he young Frenchman told his wife,) were no gayer, 
md far more chilly, than dungeons; and they soon 

^ The Private Soldier under Washington ; Chapter 3. The account 
here given is drawn from John Shreve's Personal Narrative. 


became to the full as noisome. In order to purify the 
air within these dwellings, pitch and tar were lighted, 
and the powder of a blank musket-cartridge was burned 
every morning. There was talk of supplying warmth 
by piling the floors with straw, plenty of which might 
be procured at no great distance from camp ; but 
the means of conveyance were wanting. The horses, 
worse fed even than their masters, died by hundreds 
every week. A committee of Congressmen, who towards 
the end of January made a visit of inspection to Val- 
ley Forge, ascertained that " almost every species of 
transportation was performed by men who, without a 
murmur, patiently yoked themselves to little carriages 
of their own making, or loaded their wood and pro- 
visions on their backs." For the sick and the ailing 
there was no escape except into scenes of appalling 
horror. The eleven so-called hospitals at Valley Forge 
were nothing better than larger, but more crowded, 
hovels, where the invalids had neither proper medicines, 
nor special diet; and where they lay on the bare 
ground, with no covering except their own tattered 
clothes, side by side with dying, and sometimes dead, 

The rate of mortality in these pest-houses may be 
estimated by the condition of things which prevailed 
in the most favourably situated of all the American 
hospitals. Some forty miles to the north of Philadel- 
phia was the village of Bethlehem, where a colony of 
Moravians had been planted by Count Zinzendorf him- 
self.-^ Here, for a generation back, these exemplary 
people had lived in modest plenty under a strict form 
of Christian Socialism. Their rule forbade them to 
bear arms ; but none the less did they play an honour- 
able part in the national drama. On the eve of Trenton, 
in .December 1776, Washington ordered the General 
Hospital of the Continental Army to be established at 

1 Count Zinzendorf and his followers arrived at their future home on 
Christmas-Eve in the year 1741, and passed their first night in a stable. 
Thence the name of Bethlehem. 


Bethlehem. The little settlement was over-filled and 
over-burdened from the very first; and, by the end of 
1777, it was fairly overwhelmed. In September and 
October long trains of carts, laden with mangled and 
helpless soldiers, arrived from the battlefields of Brandy- 
wine and Germantown ; and two months later on, when 
every cranny of room was already occupied, and every 
ounce of wholesome food bespoken, the flood of human 
misery began to pour in from Valley Forge. Officers 
were nursed, "in private houses, by the matrons and 
maidens ; " a great wooden shed was hastily run up in 
one of the gardens ; and a three-storied barrack, which 
had served as a hostel for the Single Brethren, was 
made over to the rank and file. This building had 
been certified for two hundred and fifty beds ; but it 
was soon packed from cellar to roof with that number 
thrice told. Congress, having wantonly thrown out of 
gear the whole existing machinery of purchase, trans- 
port, and supply, could do little or nothing to help ; and 
the limited resources of the Moravian community were 
altogether unequal to the strain. Dysentery, and every 
form of pulmonary illness, took a large toll of life ; and 
the malady which our ancestors knew by the ghastly 
names of putrid, or jail, fever raged unchecked, and 
almost uncombated. Four or five patients were known 
to die on the same pallet of straw before it was changed.^ 
Of eleven junior-surgeons and mates ten took the 
infection. Three house-stewards were struck down in 
succession ; and six or seven of the Brothers expired 
in the performance of their volunteer duties. A fine 
Virginian regiment, the pride of the old Dominion, sent 
forty privates into hospital, of whom three came out 
alive. The Chief Pastor of the Moravians attended all 
the death-beds, if such an appellation can be given to 

1 Report by Doctor William Smith, of the Hospital Staff. Doctor 
Samuel Finley said that the matron, the Commissariat officer, the nurses 
and waiters, and all but one of the surgeons, were down with the fever. 
" We lost," he declared, ** from ten to twenty of camp diseases, for one by 
weapons of the enemy." 


those heaps of polluted litter ; and the good man has 
left it on record that, in the course of a few months, 
three hundred military graves were dug in the cemetery 
at Bethlehem.^ 

After a very short experience of Valley Forge, 
Washington informed Congress that, ''unless some 
great and capital change suddenly took place " in 
the management of the Commissariat, the army must 
inevitably perish of starvation, or disappear by wholesale 
desertion. He had not adequately gauged the devotion 
of his soldiers to their country, and their personal 
affection for himself. All through December and 
January a considerable number of privates in the 
Continental regiments escaped across their own lines 
by tens and twenties, and presented themselves at the 
British outposts in a shocking condition of destitution 
and debility. But these men were for the most part of 
European nationality. Native-born Americans remained 
with the colours, retaining the spirit, and, (so far as 
might be,) preserving the outward semblance, of soldiers. 
The men in each hut contributed articles of clothing to 
make up a costume for anyone of their number who 
was ordered on picket ; and, whenever an enemy was 
in the neighbourhood, they turned out from their 
quarters silently and resignedly, and stood under arms 
during the hour of piercing cold that precedes a mid- 
winter dawn. They looked up with respectful friendli- 
ness to a chief who allowed himself no privileges or 
comforts that were denied to others. Washington's 
table was sparely furnished, and very roughly served.^ 

^ An Address delivered at the unveiling of a Tablet erected in 
Memory of the Soldiers of the Cofttinental Army who suffered and died 
at the Military Hospital of Bethlehem, by James M. Beck, of the 
Philadelphian Bar; June 19, 1897. 

2 Testimony is borne to the habitual frugality of Washington's military 
household by a political adversary who would willingly have caught him 
tripping. Two months before Valley Forge, Doctor Benjamin Rush paid 
a visit to the Republican camp, and wrote as follows in his private journal : 
" Dined with the Commander-in-Chief of the American army. No wine, 
only grog. Knives and forks enough for only half the company. One 
half the company eat, after the other had dined at the same table." 


He continued to live under a tent, in the roughest of 
weathers, until the army had roofed itself in ; and then 
he removed his headquarters to a house which was 
certainly not a palace. No one was allowed to know, 
— no one will ever know, — -Washington's inmost 
thoughts during that crucial period in his own, and his 
country's, destiny. His heart bled for his young soldiers, 
towards whom he felt as a father, but whom he was 
powerless to succour in their distress ; and his peace 
of mind was sorely tried by the machinations of his 
political enemies. The Commander-in-Chief of the 
national armies was well aware that some of the 
cleverest, and all the least estimable, Congressmen were 
plotting his downfall with adroit and unscrupulous 
assiduity. They calumniated his motives. They dis- 
paraged his abilities. They deliberately withheld from 
him absolute necessaries, while demanding of him utter 
impossibilities. Depressed and anxious, he was not 
perturbed out of measure, inasmuch as he believed him- 
self to be in direct relations with an authority which 
was superior to Congress. The old ironmaster of Valley 
Forge, with whom he lodged, used to relate that one 
day, while strolling up the creek, he found the General's 
horse fastened to a sapling. Searching around, he saw 
Washington in a thicket by the road-side, on his knees 
in prayer, with tears running down his cheeks. The 
honest man, who was a Quaker preacher, '' felt that he 
was upon holy ground, and withdrew unobserved." On 
returning home he told his wife that the nation would 
surely survive its troubles, because, if there was anyone 
on earth that the Lord would listen to, it was George 

The statesmen who swayed the counsels of the Re- 
public had no mercy on their unhappy soldiers. They 
appeared to imagine that an army, — in which the ar- 
tillery horses were too few and weak to haul the cannon, 

1 Lossing's field Book ; Vol. II., Chapter 5. 


and the provision-waggons had no teams, and the sentries 
were hardly strong enough to drag themselves between 
their station on the rampart, and the door of their 
wretched cabin, — was at all times, and for all purposes, 
in complete and efficient marching order. Congress 
could see no reason why the four or five thousand 
broken and half-clothed men, who were returned as 
effectives, should not forthwith advance upon Philadel- 
phia, and drive out of the forts, through the city, and 
across the Delaware, three times their own force of 
well-fed and well-equipped veterans, supported by a 
powerful and admirably commanded fleet of battleship? 
Washington w^as repeatedly ordered to take the opinion 
of his generals on this insane proposal ; and, within the 
space of a single week, the principal officers of his army 
had been known to cover, between them, at least two 
hundred pages of foolscap paper in answer to the re- 
iterated demands of Congress. No true soldier could 
find any pleasure in explaining to ill-informed and malevo- 
lent civilians his motives for recoiling from a hazardous 
enterprise which they invited him to undertake ; but 
Washington, and his lieutenants, faced the ungrateful 
task like brave and honest men. Nathanael Greene 
reminded Congress how "■ the King of Prussia, the 
greatest general of the age," condemned the practice of 
assaulting a body of good troops posted in villages, and 
much more in regular, brick-built towns ; and how His 
Majesty confessed that such an operation had once and 
again ruined the best part of his own army. "A 
winter's campaign," wrote Greene, " and an attack upon 
the city of Philadelphia, appear to me like forming a 
crisis for American liberty which, if unsuccessful, I fear 
will prove her grave." Henry Knox, — the best artillery- 
man, and almost the best tactician, in the Confederacy, — 
pronounced it impossible, without the aid of battering- 
cannon and mortars, first to storm a number of separate, 
self-contained redoubts ; and then to capture, street by 
street, a solidly constructed town garrisoned by many 
thousand of that very infantry a few score of whom had 


SO recently made good the defence of the Chew Mansion 
against a host of enemies. His verdict, (he said,) was 
" clearly, pointedly, and positively " unfavourable to the 
proposed assault, because it could only result in certain 
and inevitable defeat.^ The Commander-in-Chief did 
not shelter himself behind the authority of his subordi- 
nates, but expressed his own view freely, and, on one 
particular occasion, with indignant vehemence. The 
Pennsylvanian Legislature had thought fit to lecture 
him for retiring into cantonments, amidst the luxuries 
of Valley Forge, with as much solemnity, and circum- 
stance, as if they had been a Carthaginian Senate rebuk- 
ing Hannibal for having wintered in Capua. " I can 
assure those gentlemen," Washington repHed, *'that it 
is a much easier thing to draw remonstrances in a com- 
fortable room, by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold 
bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow without 
blankets. However, although they seem to have little 
feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel 
abundantly for them ; and, from my soul, I pity those 
miseries which it is not in my power to reheve or 

Those gallant generals of the Continental army, who 
had borne the brunt from the very first, were at this 
moment learning what it was to pass through 

" a cloud 
Not of war only, but detractions rude." 

If there were any three men who, faults or no faults, 
had never swerved a hand's breadth in the perilous 
place, they were Greene, Sullivan, and StirUng. The 
first of them was now railed at as a sycophant ; the 

1 " Marshal Saxe," (so General Knox wrote,) " says redoubts are the 
strongest and most excellent kind of Field Fortification, and infinitely 
preferable to extended lines, because each redoubt requires a separate 
attack, one of which succeeding does not facilitate the reduction of the 
others. Charles the Twelfth, with the best troops in the World, was 
totally ruined in the attack of some redoubts at Pultowa, although he 
succeeded in taking three of them." 


second was called a weak, vain braggart, — a mere mad- 
man under fire; and the third was classed as nothing 
superior to a lazy, ignorant drunkard. That was the 
description given of them by Benjamin Rush of Penn- 
sylvania, a Signer who, but for the courageous exer- 
tions of the warriors whom he reviled, would long ago 
have dangled on a British gallows with the Declaration 
of Independence suspended at his neck. The same 
critic pronounced that a great man must be judged by 
the company which he keeps, and that the Commander- 
in-Chief of the American forces was surrounded, flat- 
tered, and governed by such paltry satellites as Gener?il 
Greene, General Knox, and a certain aide-de-camp of 
one-and-twenty who went by the name of Colonel Alex- 
ander Hamilton. James Lovell, an influential delegate 
from Massachusetts, ridiculed Washington as a military 
leader whose only notion of strategy was to collect 
masses of troops for the sole purpose of wearing out 
stockings, shoes, and breeches ; and who by this time 
had " be-Fabiused affairs into a very disagreeable pos- 
ture." An anonymous letter, redolent of envy, was ad- 
dressed to the President of Congress by no feeble hand. 
The people of America, (so the writer asserted,) were 
guilty of idolatry by making a man their God. No 
good could be expected from the army until Baal and 
his worshippers were banished from the camp. 

It would be garbling history to slur over the fact 
that these ebullitions of ill-mannered, and most unpatri- 
otic, rancour were accepted with favour in a quarter from 
which very different conduct might have been expected. 
John Adams, in obedience to the happiest inspiration 
which occurred to him in the course of his long and honour- 
able career, had been the earliest to suggest the nomina- 
tion of George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of 
the national forces ; but now, at the most critical period of 
the Revolutionary War, he withheld from the general 
of his own choice that support which was due to the 
personal relations of the two men, and essential to the 
salvation of their common country. Adams professed 


to himself, and to the world at large, that he held 
Washington in high regard ; but, when one public man 
is sincerely attached to another, he will abstain from 
assailing him with hackneyed and offensive party-taunts. 
The stock in trade of Washington's political adver- 
saries consisted in the eternal repetition of two special 
charges, — that he was the object of idolatry, and that 
he played Fabius Maximus Cunctator to the loss of the 
American cause. The letters and speeches of John 
Adams were bestrewn with allusions to that pair of well- 
worn topics. He was '* sick of Fabian systems." He 
had looked for vigour and audacity, and was ** weary 
with so much insipidity." His favourite toast, (so he 
declared,) was "a short and violent war." He hoped 
that Congress would elect their generals annually ; and 
then some great men would be obliged at the year's end 
to go home, and serve the nation in some other capacity 
not less necessary, and better adapted to their genius. 
And, in the February of 1777, he went so far as to tell 
Congress that he was distressed to see some of the 
Members of the House disposed to worship an image 
which their own hands had molten. Samuel Adams, 
and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, had always believed 
that military ambition was a formidable menace to the 
stability of popular government; and John Adams very 
soon came round to the same opinion. He expressed a 
strong apprehension that to entrust the Commander-in- 
Chief with the promotion of generals and colonels would 
be dangerous to public liberty ; and, when the Hessians 
were defeated, and the British navy foiled, in their com- 
bined attack upon Fort Mercer, he thanked God that 
the glory of that great success could not be ascribed to 
Washington, inasmuch as ** idolatry and adulation would 
have been so excessive as to have imperilled the freedom 
of America." ^ 

^ To the end of his days John Adams never praised Washington with- 
out explanations and reservations. In 1807, when Washington had lain 
for eight years in the family vault at Mount Vernon, Adams enumerated 
to Dr. Rush a long string of reasons which accounted for the great man's 



Never were distrust and suspicion more senselessly 
misplaced, or Constitutional safeguards and precautions 
more absolutely superfluous. It was incredible that 
the thirteen States, or any one of them, would consent 
to settle down beneath the rule of a military despot ; 
and, (if anything could be surer than certainty,) it was 
more inconceivable still that a man, whose every action 
was determined by an ever-present sense of right and 
wrong, should contemplate the transcendent wicked- 
ness of gripping with mailed hand the throat of his 
native country. Under no circumstances whatsoever 
would Washington have yielded to that temptation; 
and in his eyes, moreover, it was not even a tempta- 
tion. His ideal of existence was as far as possible 
removed from the splendour and license of a usurper 
and a tyrant, — from the power which is obtained by 
crime, and can never again be surrendered with safety. 
He looked wistfully forward to the conclusion of the 
war as an event which would replace him in the secure 
and permanent condition of a private citizen. "The 
first wish of my soul," he wrote in June 1782, **is to 
return speedily into the bosom of that country which 
gave me birth, and, in the sweet enjoyment of domestic 
happiness and the company of a few friends, to end my 
days in quiet, when I shall be called from this stage." 
More than one autocrat of evil fame has pleased him- 
self, during an interval of leisure, by drawing Arcadian 
pictures of his pursuits and aspirations ; but Washing- 
immense elevation above his fellows ; — such as a handsome face ; a tall 
stature, like the Hebrew sovereign chosen because he out-topped all other 
Jews by a head ; an elegant form ; graceful attitudes and movements; 
and a large and imposing fortune, which induced the world to give him 
full credit for his disinterestedness. Washington ** possessed the gift of 
silence," He had great self-command; and, whenever he lost his temper, 
either the love, or the fear, of those about him induced them to conceal 
his weakness from the world. Besides, (said Adams,) *' he was a Virginian. 
This is an equivalent to five Talents. Virginian geese are all swans. 
They trumpet one another with the most pompous and mendacious 
panegyrics. The Philadelphians and New Yorkers, who are local and 
partial enough to themselves, are meek and modest in comparison with 
Virginian Old Dominionism." Old Family Letters^ Copied from tht 
Originals for Alexander Biddle ; pages 168-170. 


ton's passion for the quiet life was no theatrical talk. 
He never was so perfectly contented, and so con- 
tinuously happy, as during the fifty months which he 
spent, — after peace was proclaimed, and the army dis- 
banded, — at his riverside home amidst field-sports and 
rural duties. It was too calm and bright to last. In 
April 1789 George Washington was chosen President 
of the United States ; and the sixteenth of that month 
was a black day in his private diary. "■ About ten of 
the clock," (he wrote,) ** I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, - 
to private life, and to domestic felicity ; and, with 
a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sen- 
sations than I have words to express, set out for New 
York with the best disposition to render service to my 
country in obedience to its calls, but with less hope of ^^ 
answering its expectations." '^'\> 

Unrestrained by the influence, and in some cases 
encouraged by the sympathy, of statesmen who ought 
to have known better, the enemies of Washington set 
themselves deliberately at work to drive out of public 
employment the man on whom the hopes of their nation 
rested, and who embodied in his own person all that 
was most valuable in the national character.^ They 
were a knot of vain and small-minded people. But 
they had the qualities of their defects ; and their petty, 
artful, and intensely unscrupulous manoeuvres were 
well calculated to secure their ends. The intrigue, 
which rumbled and spluttered below the surface of 
affairs all through that ill-famed winter, is known in 
American history as Conway's Cabal. Conway was an 
Irishman by birth, who had seen much service in the 
French army. He had come across the Atlantic with 
a recommendation from Silas Deane ; and Congress 
appointed him a Major General, to the keen vexation of 
the native-born colonels whom he superseded. Their 

^ " I glory in the character of a Washington, because I know him to 
be only an exemplification of the American character." John Adams 
wrote thus in September 1785, at the time that he was American 
Minister in London. 



case was stated by the Commander-in-Chief, under 
whom they had fought three campaigns, and who re- 
quested to be informed why the youngest Brigadier in 
the service should be put over the heads of many 
gentlemen distinguished by sound judgment, and un- 
questionable bravery. " Colonel Conway's merit," so 
Washington went on to say, "and his importance in 
this army, exist more in his own imagination than in 
reality ; for it is a maxim with him to leave no service 
of his own untold, nor to want anything which is to be 
obtained by importunity."^ Washington, unlike his 
accusers and traducers, always signed his name at the 
foot of a letter ; and he was aware that foes, as well as 
friends, would sooner or later know at least the sub- 
stance of whatever he felt himself bound to write. The 
course which he took on this occasion was no secret to 
Conway, who resented it as all, except the magnani- 
mous, resent public action which is unfavourable to 
their personal interest; and Conway was a dangerous 
man to have for an enemy. 

In November, 1777, the superintendence of military 
affairs was vested in a Board of War constituted of 
persons not themselves members of Congress, but for 
the most part in close aUiance with the ill-wishers of 
General Washington who had seats in that Assembly. 
The office, where this powerful conclave held its meet- 
ings, at once became an exchange-mart of slanderous 
gossip ; — a sort of Venetian Lion's Mouth, standing 
open for the reception of denunciations pointed, one 
and all, at the same conspicuous citizen. The next 
three months produced a whole crop of venomous 
attacks upon Washington, unsigned and unsupported 
by evidence, which were addressed to, and sometimes 
emanated from, prominent delegates in Congress. One 
of the most outrageous of these diatribes was placed in 
the hands of the Commander-in-Chief by Patrick Henry, 
the Governor of Virginia. '* The anonymous letter," 

1 Washington to Richard Henry Lee, in Congress ; Matuchen Hill, 
17 October, 1777. 


Washington replied, " with which you are pleased to 
favour me, was written by Doctor Rush, so far as I 
can judge from a similitude of hands. This man has 
been elaborate and studied in his professions of regard 
for me." The object of all this subterranean corre- 
spondence was to exalt Horatio Gates on the wreck of 
George Washington's reputation and influence. Gates 
owed the single military success of his life to Benedict 
Arnold; two years later on, when he encountered Lord 
Cornwallis at Camden in North Carolina, he evinced 
his hopeless incapacity as a leader in battle, and 
proved that he did not so much as possess the obliga- 
tory courage of a soldier ; but, as the nominal victor 
of Saratoga, he served the immediate purpose of Wash- 
ington's adversaries, and was loaded with compliments 
at Washington's expense. '* We have had," (so Gates 
was told by one of his partisans,) '* a noble army 
melted down by ill-judged marches, which disgrace 
their authors and directors. How much are you to be 
envied, my dear General ! How different your conduct, 
and your fortune ! This army will be totally lost, 
unless you come down and collect the virtuous band 
who wish to fight under your banner." " The Northern 
army," (said another admirer,) *' has shown us what 
Americans are capable of doing with 2^ general 2X their 
head. The spirit of the Southern army is in no way 
inferior. A Gates, a Lee, or a Conway would in a few 
weeks render them an irresistible body of men." 

Washington was in a cruel plight. " My enemies," 
he said, " take an ungenerous advantage of me. They 
know the delicacy of my situation, and that motives of 
policy deprive me of the defence I might otherwise 
make against their insidious attacks. They know I 
cannot combat their insinuations, however injurious, 
without disclosing secrets which it is of the utmost 
value to conceal."^ The plan adopted by Washing- 
ton's opponents was to drench him with insults, and 

1 Washington to Henry Laurens, the President of Congress ; Valley 
Forge, 31 January, 1778. 


ill-services, until he should lose his self-control, and 
make some false step which they would take good care 
to render irretrievable. They had denied him rein- 
forcements at the proper season for action ; they had 
broken up the system of Transport and Commissariat 
which he had slowly and painfully constructed ; and 
then, when his soldiers were spent by starvation and 
disease, they had publicly invited him to recommence 
operations in the depth of winter, and had thrown upon 
him, and upon the generals who were faithful to him, 
the responsibility of declining to attack Philadelphia 
under conditions which would be fatal to the American 
army. Notorious and implacable hostility to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the national forces was recognised 
as the special qualification for every office the holder 
of which would be in a position to annoy and thwart 
him. Conway was appointed Inspector General of the 
Army ; Gates was brought down from Albany to York, 
and made President of the Board of War ; and his con- 
fidential aide-de-camp. Colonel Wilkinson, became its 
Secretary. The managers of the Cabal had by this 
time ceased to be afraid of Washington. They re- 
garded him as a proud and rigid man, who would not 
stoop to make a party for himself in the lobbies of a 
popular assembly, and whom nature had framed to be 
the victim in a conflict with antagonists who were less 
punctilious and chivalrous than himself. They looked 
forward to the moment when his place would be too 
hot for him ; they were ready to pounce upon any 
expression of dissatisfaction proceeding from his pen 
which could be construed, or tortured, into a request 
to be relieved from office ; and, when once he had been 
dismissed into private life, they felt assured that they 
would be quit of him for ever. 

They had mistaken their man. George Washing- 
ton, with right on his side, knew very well how to 
fight his own battles. He was pre-eminently a fair 
dealer ; but, when liberties were taken with him, he 
more than once showed himself an exceedingly formi- 


dable customer. Though he was indifferent to gain, and 
not covetous of glory, he had the strongest possible 
motive for remaining at the head of the army. He was 
firmly resolved, if the bullets spared him, to see his 
country safe through all her troubles ; and he had no 
intention of allowing a pack of self-seekers and intriguers 
to hound him prematurely from the post of duty. He 
possessed no skill in plots and counter-plots, no aptitude 
for self-advertisement, and no inclination to the practice 
of disparaging and maligning others ; but he had in 
store a resistless weapon which, in the last resort, he 
was entitled, and determined, to employ. Washington's 
strength lay in the trust and affection of the vast majority 
of his countrymen. Twice in the course of this very 
year, one of his most clever and bitter enemies confessed 
that the people of America adored the Commander- 
in-Chief, and were fully persuaded that the war could 
not be carried on without him.^ He was admired by 
soldiers all the continent over, and passionately beloved 
by those who had faced danger, and who were now 
enduring the extremity of suffering, under his guidance, 
and in his company.^ The feeling of the nation and 
the army towards Washington is described in a military 
report by a famous New England officer. General Knox 
was remarking upon the apprehension, entertained by 
some of his colleagues, that their chief would be harshly 
criticised if he did not consent to order an assault upon 
Sir William Howe's fortifications. " I have heard it 
urged," (Knox wrote,) ''that your Excellency's repu- 
tation would suffer. I freely confess that an idea of 
this kind pains me exceedingly ; and, were I fully to 
believe it, I should be impelled to give my opinion for 
measures as desperate as I conceive the attempt to 

^ Historical Notes of Doctor Benjamin Rush, for April and October, 

2 "The poor soldier," (wrote Doctor Waldo,) "ate his bad food with 
seeming content, and laboured barefoot through the mud and cold, with 
his shirt hanging about him in strings, and a song in his mouth extolling 


storm Philadelphia. I am not of opinion that your 
Excellency's character suffers in the least with the well- 
affected part of the people of America. I know, to the 
contrary, that the people of America look up to you as 
their Father, and into your hands they trust their all, 
confident of every exertion on your part for their 
security and happiness ; and I do not believe there is 
any man on earth for whose welfare there are more 
solicitations at the Court of Heaven than for yours." ^ 

Washington's character, as he could not help being 
aware, stood so high that he would have no need what- 
ever to defend himself, if once it was brought home to 
the public mind that he had been wantonly and un- 
generously attacked. Fortified by this knowledge, he 
took the earliest opportunity that presented itself, and 
went straight to the point at once. Before many days 
passed, a despatch from the Commander-in-Chief was 
placed in the hands of General Gates, who opened it, 
and read as follows : 


A letter, which I received last night, contained the 
following paragraph : 

' In a letter from General Conway to General Gates 
he says, Heaven has been determined to save your country^ 
or a weak General and bad counsellors would have ruined 


I am, Sir, your humble servant, 

George Washington." 

Conway had the grace to attempt no denial ; but 
Gates discerned in the incident a chance of besmirching 
Washington, and tainting the fair fame of a distin- 
guished young officer who was deep in Washington's 
confidence. The idea occurred to him that his desk 
had been searched and rifled by Alexander Hamilton, 

^ Opinion of Brigadier General Knox\ Park of Artillery, Camp, 
Whitemarsh, 26th November, 1777. 


during his recent visit to the Northern army. Gates 
accordingly began to bully and bluster, calling upon 
Washington, in a letter several pages long, to assist him 
in the detection and punishment of the wretch, the 
miscreant, and the traitorous thief, who had robbed his 
portfolio. He sent a duplicate of this extraordinary 
composition to the President of Congress ; and it was 
through Congress that the Commander-in-Chief trans- 
mitted to him an unsealed reply, giving an exact account 
of all that had happened. The fact was that Colonel 
Wilkinson, — who stood in the same close relation to 
General Gates as Colonel Hamilton to General Wash- 
ington, — had blabbed about Conway's letter to an 
officer of Lord Stirling's staff; and Stirling, by friend- 
ship and duty bound, had passed on the information to 
the Commander-in-Chief. It was a thunderstroke for 
Gates, who now saw the full extent of his own folly in 
having made the story public property by his appeal to 
Congress.^ He returned Washington a shabby, and 
almost servile, answer; full of equivocal statements 
which nobody heeded at the time, and nobody has ever 
credited since ; excusing himself and General Conway, 
and pouring contempt upon Colonel Wilkinson.^ When 
that officer learned that he had been thrown over, he 
challenged Gates to mortal combat. A hostile meeting 
was arranged behind the Episcopal Church in York. 
" At the appointed hour, when all had arrived on the 
ground, the old general requested, through his second, 
an interview with his young antagonist ; walked up a 

1 Washington took care to let Gates know that he had brought the 
exposure on himself. " Neither this letter," (he wrote,) "nor the informa- 
tion which occasioned it, was ever directly, or indirectly, communicated by 
me to a single officer in this army out of my own family, excepting the 
Marquis de Lafayette, who, (having been spoken to on the subject by Gen- 
eral Conway,) applied for, and saw under injunctions of secrecy, the letter 
which contained Wilkinson's information." George Washington to 
Horatio Gates; Valley P^orge, 4 January, 1778. 

2 Two very different versions of this reply were printed and published. 
It has been suggested that one was the letter which actually reached 
Washington, and that Wilkinson copied the other from the original draft. 
There was matter for a duel in either of them. 


back street with him ; burst into tears ; called him his 
dear boy ; and denied that he ever made any injurious 
remarks about him."^ The pistols were returned to 
their case, unused ; but Colonel Wilkinson wrote to 
Congress, accusing Gates of falsehood and treachery, 
and resigning his own functions as Secretary to the 
Board of War. 

The leaders of the baffled and detected faction had 
no time to lose. In another fortnight the story would 
have travelled all over the Confederacy, and their credit 
and authority would be swept away in a flood of ridi- 
cule and public indignation. They seized, as their last 
chance, on an ingenious scheme for wounding Washing- 
ton in the house of his friends. The Marquis de 
Lafayette had long ago re-appeared in camp, making 
very light of the hurt which he had received at Brandy- 
wine. He was the most popular and cheerful of invalids, 
and prouder of his first wound than if he had been 
decorated by his Sovereign with the Cross of Saint Louis. 
Washington had desired his physician to treat the young 
man as his own son ; and he was tended with motherly 
and sisterly care by the German ladies of Bethlehem. 
The Moravian Brothers discoursed to him about the 
folly of war, and were touched and flattered by the 
interest with which he contrived to read an English 
translation of the Narrative of their Greenland Mission. 
Lafayette missed Germantown ; but he was back again 
with the army, and on horseback, while still unable 
to wear a boot. General Greene entrusted him with 
a detachment of troops, at the head of which he 
fought a spirited and successful action against a su- 
perior force of Hessians, and earned warm praises 
from the Commander-in-Chief. Lafayette had found 
his hero in Washington ; but, aristocrat and ideaHst that 
he was, he did not feel himself attracted or fascinated 

^ This sentence is extracted from the vivid and circumstantial account 
given in Mr. Fiske's Ninth Chapter. The whole correspondence may be 
found in the Sixth Appendix to the Fifth Volume of The Writings of 
George TVashington. 


by the clique of wire-pullers who governed Congress. 
"I see plainly," (he wrote to Washington,) **that 
America can defend herself, if proper measures are 
taken ; but I begin to fear that she may be lost by 
herself and her own sons." Washington thanked 
him for his sympathy, and bade him be of good 
heart and courage. "We must not," he said, "in so 
great a contest, expect nothing but sunshine. I have 
no doubt that everything happens for the best, that we 
shall triumph over our misfortunes, and in the end be 
happy ; and then, my dear Marquis, if you will give 
me your company in Virginia, we will laugh at our past 
difficulties, and the folly of others." ^ 

The two friends were sitting together in Washing- 
ton's quarters, on an evening towards the end of Jan- 
uary, 1778, when a packet of documents arrived from 
the Board of War. The older man read the papers, and 
then passed them over to his companion without a 
word. They contained Lafayette's nomination to the 
independent command of the Northern army, with 
Conway as his chief lieutenant ; and the Marquis was 
directed to repair to the seat of government, in order 
to concert arrangements for an immediate invasion of 
Canada. The cup of temptation was exquisitely adapted 
to the taste of him for whose acceptance it had been 
compounded. Such a chance, at such a time of life, 
had never fallen to one who was not a monarch, or, at 
the very least, a prince of royal blood. Lafayette was 
still well under one-and-twenty, — hardly older than 
Charles the Twelfth when he stormed the Russian camp 
at Narva, and younger than the Great Conde at the 
battle of Rocroi. His lively imagination could easily pic- 
ture to itself the outburst of pride and enthusiasm with 
which Paris would learn the news that a high-born 
French youth had avenged Montcalm, and had been 
welcomed by his countrymen in Canada as their deliverer 

^ Marquis de Lafayette to General Washington ; Camp, 30 December, 
1777, General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette; Headquarters, 
31 December, 1777. 


from the British yoke. It was a glittering web of 
romance and glory ; and yet there was a seamy side to 
the tapestry. Lafayette shrank from the thought of 
entering upon a career of ambition as the rival, and the 
possible supplanter, of his patron and benefactor. He 
announced his intention of decUning the appointment ; 
but Washington urged, and at last positively insisted, 
that he should at once close with the offer. The Marquis 
accordingly set out for York, where he was received 
with open arms. Gates entertained him at a banquet 
which appeared almost sinfully profuse and luxurious to 
a guest who had come direct from the famine at Vallev 
Forge. Wine and words flowed copiously ; and the 
expected conqueror of Canada was congratulated and 
belauded by eloquent civilians of twice his years, and 
by generals who could harangue much better than they 
fought. The young nobleman confined his own remarks 
to practical business. He firmly, but quietly, let it be 
known that he should exercise his functions in strict 
subordination to General Washington, and that no con- 
sideration would induce him to accept Conway as his 
second in command. When the time for departure 
approached he rose to his feet, reminded the company 
that the most important of all the toasts had been 
omitted in the generous excitement of the hour, and 
gave the health of the Commander-in-Chief. A dead 
silence fell upon the audience. Glasses were raised to 
the lips, and set down untasted, while ** with the politest 
of bows, and a scarcely perceptible shrug of the shoulders, 
the new Commander of the Northern Army left the 
room, and mounted his horse to start for his head- 
quarters at Albany." ^ 

The conspirators, — unlike Cassius and Casca in the 
Second Act of Shakespeare's tragedy, — had knocked 
at the wrong door in their search for an accomplice. 
Lafayette made it very clear to them that he had no 

^ Ninth Chapter of Fiske's History. Life of General Lafayette^ by 
Bayard Tuckerman. Memoires de ma main ; Jttsqu^en Vannee 1780, du 
General Lafayette. 


intention of playing Marcus Brutus to Washington's 
Julius Caesar. Their designs had been penetrated; 
their secret machinations had been dragged into the 
daylight ; and America learned, for the first time, how 
near she had come to exchanging the disinterested 
services of George Washington, and Robert Morris, for 
the egotism and impotence of Horatio Gates, and Ben- 
jamin Rush. The Republic, (as every man of sense 
now recognised with something of a shudder,) had been 
threatened by a calamity more serious than the loss 
of half a score of pitched battles. Conway's Cabal 
became a by-word in all the States, and Conway 
himself soon disappeared from American history. In 
the course of the spring he was appointed to a post 
which did not please his fancy, and he sent in his resig- 
nation to the President of Congress in a petulant letter.^ 
Much to his surprise and anger, he was promptly 
taken at his word, and relieved from duty. He loitered 
about in Pennsylvanian society, an idle and disap- 
pointed man ; giving, to all and sundry, his own ver- 
sion of what had taken place during the winter, and 
girding at the Commander-in-Chief in a tone which 
already was hopelessly out of date. The style of his 
talk was too much for the patience of General Cad- 
walader, a Philadelphian of hot Welsh blood, who had 
fought in most of Washington's battles, and had no 
fault to find with Washington's leadership. The two 
officers celebrated their next Fourth of July by a 
desperate duel ; and Conway was shot through the 
face. Lying on what he believed to be his death-bed, 
he wrote to Washington an assurance of his "sincere 
grief" for his past conduct. "My career," he con- 
tinued, "will soon be over : therefore justice and truth 

' " I have been boxed about in the most indecent manner. . . . What is 
the meaning of removing me from the scene of action on the opening of 
a campaign? I did not rlescrve this burlesque disgrace; and my honour 
will not permit me to bear it. If my services are not thought necessary, 
why do you not mention it to me fairly?" (iencral Lonway to President 
Laurens; Fishkill, April 22nd, 1778. 


prompt me to declare my last sentiments. You are in 
my eyes the great and good man. May you long enjoy 
the love, veneration, and esteem of the States, whose 
liberties you have asserted by your virtues ! " ^ 

Washington had made a coup d'etat after his own 
fashion. He did not over-ride the Constitution, or 
perpetrate a single act of arbitrary and illegal violence. 
Nobody was arrested, or imprisoned, or deported. There 
were no military demonstrations in the streets, and no 
intrusion of the soldiery into the precincts of the senate- 
house. A few strong, plain words, spoken at the right 
moment and in the right quarter, had roused the 
nation to a sense of its peril, and had brought all his 
enemies to his feet. The most damaging accusation 
which, for many years to come, could be hurled against 
any leading poHtician, was that he had taken part in 
the attack upon George Washington. It was long re- 
membered to the disadvantage of General Mifflin that 
he had consented to sit upon the Board of War ; and 
John Adams himself was taught by a disagreeable ex- 
perience that, when he carped at the foremost man in 
America, he had been playing with edged tools.^ The 
defeat of Conway's Cabal marked a distinct and visible 
step in Washington's upward progress. His authority 
thenceforward stood on a more elevated and solid 
pedestal than it had ever occupied before. "As the 
silly intrigues against him recoiled upon their authors, 
men began to reahse that it was far more upon his 
consummate sagacity, and unselfish patriotism, than any- 

1 Thomas Conway to George Washington; Philadelphia, 23 July, 
1778. Conway eventually recovered from his wound. He returned to 
France, and was appointed Governor of the French settlements in 
Hindostan, " where, however, his imprudence is said to have greatly 
injured the French cause. In 1793 he was in charge of the Royalist 
army in the South of France, but was driven from that country, and died 
in exile in 1800.'" Wharton's Diplomatic Correspondence \ Note on page 
202 of Volume 11. 

2 "That insolent blasphemer of things sacred, and transcendent 
libeller of all that is good, Tom Paine, has more than once asserted in 
print that I was one of a faction, in the Fall of the year 1777, against 
General Washington." Autobiography of John Adams. 


thing Congress could do, that the country rested its 
hopes of success in the great enterprise which it had 
undertaken." ^ The power, which Washington fore- 
bore to snatch, fell into his grasp easily, and almost 
automatically. No one ever again openly disputed, 
and very few even privately questioned, that he, and 
he alone, united the qualities and the attributes which 
were essential to the general and statesman who was to 
save America.^ 

1 This sentence is taken from the closing paragraph of Mr. Fiske's 
Ninth Chapter. 

2 The collapse of the opposition to Washington is depicted in a letter 
from Conway to Gates, written at York in June, 1778. "I had never," 
(said Conway,) " a sufficient idea of cabals until I reached this place. 
My reception, as you may imagine, was not a warm one. . . . Mr. Carroll, 
from Maryland, upon whose friendship I depended, is one of the hottest 
of the cabal. He told me a few days ago, ahnost literally, that anybody 
who displeased, or did not admire, the Commander-in-Chief, ought not to 
be kept in the army." 




The first step towards saving America was to preserve 
the lives, and rebuild the health, of her soldiers ; and all 
eyes were turned to George Washington as the prime 
agent in that vital process. Congress, sincerely repen- 
tant, besought him in forcible language to exert the 
dictatorial powers with which he was liberally invested. 
Even his personal enemies welcomed his acceptance 
of authority as a relief and protection to themselves. 
The troops, and more especially the Virginians, were 
loud in blame of Horatio Gates, and of his allies and 
abettors within the walls of Congress. Even Colonels, 
(we are told,) spoke of them with the greatest con- 
tempt and detestation ; and every class of oiificials, 
who were entrusted with the supply of food and 
clothing, '* shared largely in the profusion of curses 
and ill-will of the camp." ^ The political generals on 
the Board of War ceased to trifle with duties which 
they had made no serious attempt to master, and left 
the ground clear for the only living man who could 
stand between them and their immense unpopularity. 

Washington flung himself with eagerness into his 
difficult and urgent task ; acting through the civil 
power wherever it was practicable, and, when time 
pressed, doing the work of the moment according to 
his own lights, and on his own responsibility. A 
Committee of Congress, under his inspiration, circulated 
an appeal for help to all the States of the Union ; ^ and 

1 Diary of Major Clarky for January 1778; as quoted by Louis Qinton 
Hatch in The Ad7?tinistration of the American Revolutionary Army, 

2 Public Papers of George Clinton-, Volume II., page 766. 



in the meanwhile the Commander-in-Chief fearlessly 
resorted to the strong hand in order to save his army 
from immediate dissolution. On the seventh February 
he commissioned his ablest Heutenants to ransack the 
whole area from which the British Commissariat 
officers drew supplies for the garrison of Philadelphia. 
Nathanael Greene collected many waggon-loads of 
grain, and all the cattle, sheep, and swine, which were 
tit for killing, between the Schuylkill and the Brandy- 
wine Rivers ; compensating the owners with promissory 
notes which in due time were paid, to the uttermost 
cent, by the loyal exertions of Robert Morris. Wayne 
fought and foraged in Pennsylvania, and afterwards 
in New Jersey, with so much success that he was 
soon familiarly known as ''Wayne the Drover." The 
Loyalists adopted and used that nickname for purposes 
of contumely ; ^ but it had its origin in the gratitude of 
the haggard and tattered crowd which watched Anthony 
Wayne ride into camp at Valley Forge behind a great 
herd of fat bullocks. Greene wrote, in a private letter, 
that Washington's soldiers had been a full week with- 
out receiving a single ration. '' They came," (he said,) 
'' before their superior officers, and told their sufferings 
in as respectful terms as if they had been humble 
petitioners for special favours. Happily, relief arrived 
from the little collections I had made, and some others, 
and prevented the army from disbanding." 

Washington's station in society, and his vocation 
in life, had prepared him for the emergency which 
he was now called upon to meet. The owner of a 
Southern plantation, living in a region of primitive 

^ Major Andre's last literary production, — entitled The Cow Chase, a 
satirical poem, — was sent to press the evening before the author started 
from New York on his fatal mission. The concluding stanza ran as 
follows : 

"And now I've closed my epic strain. 

I tremble, as I show it, 
Lest this same warrior-drover Wayne 
Should ever catch the poet." 

The verses appeared in Rivington's Gazette on the day that Andre was 
arrested by the American volunteers at Tarrytown. 



communications and vast self-supporting estates, was 
trained to foresight, industry, method, and self-reli- 
ance from early youth upwards. " As the planta- 
tion," we are told, ** was the centre of the economic 
interests of the country, so the planter was the 
most important individual in the community. In 
his own domain his word was supreme law, and his 
wishes were the governing influence. The country was 
thus provided with a circle of men who showed unusual 
ability in public administration. They had been 
brought up to headship and leadership, and accustomed 
to the most important duties of practical management." ^ 
In the arts of peace, — in the orderly, equable, and 
successful conduct of an immense rural and industrial 
establishment, — Washington had been conspicuous 
among his fellows. He could turn his hands to many 
sorts of work. He had been used to superintend the 
manufacture, on a large scale, of all requisites and appli- 
ances for rural labour and porterage, and to arrange 
for the daily sustenance of a multitude of men and 
animals.^ He had learned to choose qualified subordi- 
nates in various departments of business, and to recognise 
and trust a good man when he had found one. And 
now, in the early spring of 1778, as soon as the 
crying needs of his soldiers had been temporarily 
satisfied, he took practical and well-considered measures 
for preventing any recurrence of the administrative 
scandals and calamities which had marked the previous 
winter. In concert with an excellent Committee, ap- 
pointed by Congress to assist him in the reorganisa- 
tion of the army, he once more set up an efficient 

^ Extract from an article on Virginia in an American periodical. 

2 " I rose early, and took a walk about the General's grounds, which 
are really beautifully laid out. He has about four thousand acres well 
cultivated, and superintends the whole himself. Indeed, his great pride 
now is to be thought the first farmer in America. ... It is astonishing 
what a number of small houses the General has upon his estate for his 
different workmen and negroes to live in. He has everything within him- 
self, — Carpenters, Bricklayers, Brewers, Blacksmiths, Bakers ; and even 
has a well-assorted Store for the use of his family and Servants." Diary 
of John Hunter \ Mount Vernon, November 17, 1785. 


machinery of supply and transport. Colonel Wads- 
worth of Connecticut, a man of solid ability and tried 
integrity, was placed over the Commissariat ; and 
General Greene, in response to Washington's earnest 
solicitation, accepted the thankless post of Quarter- 
master General.^ Never was a duty more reluctantly 
assumed, and more faithfully and effectually performed. 
Greene believed himself to be renouncing the ambition 
of a lifetime when he retired from his place in the 
fighting line. History, (he pathetically exclaimed,) had 
never heard of a Quartermaster. In his case, however, 
patriotism and self-abnegation were destined to be 
splendidly rewarded. Nathanael Greene's experience, 
during the next two years, in the intricate details of 
military administration, was of incalculable service to 
him throughout that magnificent campaign of forced 
marches, and furious battles, by which he recovered for 
the RepubHc three of the Southern States, and inscribed 
his own name next to that of Washington on the roll of 
famous Revolutionary generals. 

The new officials attacked their work on system. 
General Greene, in consultation with the Commander-in- 
Chief and Commissary Wadsworth, made an estimate of 
the food and forage which would suffice an army of 
thirty thousand men for a period of twelve months. ^ He 
estabHshed half a dozen principal magazines at carefully 
selected points along the Delaware River. He secured a 
vast quantity of horses for the Artillery and Transport. 
He saw that the streams were bridged and the highways 
in repair, and that the waggons were very numerous, 
and in working order. He insisted that the carters and 
teamsters should be fairly remunerated, and humanely 
treated ; and in his dealings with farmers, tradespeople, 
and mechanics he displayed the justice and the fellow- 

^ "I hate the place," (so Greene wrote to Knox;) "but I hardly know 
what to do. The General is afraid that the department will be so ill- 
managed, unless some of his friends undertake it, that the operations of 
the next campai.c^n will be in a great measure frustrate'!." 

2 Washingtrm conifmted his annual rerjuirements at two hundred 
thousand barrels of flour, and forty million pounds of meat. 



feeling which might be expected from a man who 
himself had always wrought hard for a livelihood.^ 
When the summer was half over, Washington told the 
President of Congress that, thanks to General Greene's 
active and judicious management, he himself had been 
enabled, with great facility and on the shortest notice, 
to move an army, half again as large as that which 
fought at Brandywine, across a hundred miles of country 
in rapid pursuit of the enemy. Colonel Wadsworth, 
(the Commander-in-Chief added,) had been indefatigable 
in his exertions, and, since his appointment to the post 
of Commissary General, the supplies of provisions had 
been good and ample.^ 

Hard times became a thing of the past at Valley 
Forge. In December 1777 Field-officers had kept 
Thanksgiving Day on a morsel of "exceeding poor" 
meat, without flour or biscuit.^ In the spring of 1778 
the allowance served out to every private was a pound 
and a half of bread ; a pound of beef, or fish, or pork 
and beans ; and a gill of whiskey. The regimental 
doctors, practitioners of the old school, could once 
again exhibit their favourite remedy of " mutton and 
grog."* The cheeks of the young soldiers filled out, 
their arms recovered muscle, and their step regained its 
spring ; while the invalids who had survived the winter 
came back to the ranks by hundreds. The return of 
warm weather brought once more into evidence those 
of the regimental chaplains who, during the extreme 
cold, had gone home to their native States on a theory 
that the men at Valley Forge were too poorly clad to 
stand in the open air, and listen to preaching. One of 
them was told by a soldier that he, and his comrades, 

"^ Life of Nathanael Greene, Book II., Chapter i. "Before I came 
into the Department," (Greene wrote,) " the country had been plundered 
in a way that would now breed a kind of civil war between the Staff and 
the inhabitants." 

2 Washington to the President of Congress; V^^hiteplains, New York, 
Augusta, 1778. 

^Journal of Henry Dearborn, 

* Doctor Albigence lVald6*s Diary. 


had sadly missed the hearing of the sermon on a Sunday. 
The Reverend gentleman explained that it was their 
comfort which he had in mind when he discontinued 
the practice of pubhc worship. ** That is true," was 
the answer ; *' but it would have been consoling to have 
had so good a man among us." Deeply touched, the 
clergyman reported the conversation to General Van 
Cortlandt, who asked to have the soldier pointed out, 
and identified him as the most notorious reprobate in 
the whole battalion.^ 

A break-up of winter always refilled the American 
regiments; and, in April and May 1778, the outburst 
of personal loyalty to Washington, which was evoked 
by the disclosure of Conway's Cabal, gave a notable 
impulse to the recruiting. The event of Saratoga had 
made the Northern and Eastern States safe for ever 
and a day. The fighting men of those districts were 
no longer needed for the defence of their own firesides ; 
and New Englanders rallied in great numbers round 
the banner of the only general, born outside New 
England, whom they deemed worthy to command them. 
They flocked into camp, as fast as Colonel Wadsworth 
could get beef to feed them ; strapping sinewy lads, — 
Asas, and Ephraims, and Jonadabs, and Abijahs,^ — 
astonishing the foreign officers by their skill in the most 
essential accomplishment of a soldier. The Chevalier de 
Fleury reported to his government that the American re- 
cruit was a different being from a French peasant, who 
never killed a hare or a partridge without imminent 
danger of being sent to the galleys as a poacher. Every 
farmer's son in the States, (he said,) knew the use of a 
fowling-piece ; and not a few of them were veterans, little 
as they looked the part. " The recruits," wrote Lafayette, 

^ Philip Van Cortlandt'' s Biography \ quoted in The Private Soldier 
under Washington, Chapter 6. 

2 In a very strong company, which marched from Linccjln in Massa- 
chusetts to the Battle of Lexington, every minute-man had a Christian, — • 
or, more strictly speaking, a I>iblical, — name taken out of Old Testament 


** have in many cases fought in the same regiments 
which they are rejoining, and have seen more shots 
fired than three out of four soldiers in Europe." 

Soldiers, in the European sense of the term, the 
American infantrymen were not. Perfection of drill was 
unattainable in an army which, ever since it assembled 
on Cambridge Common in the spring of 1775, had been 
harried about, from pillar to post, up and down five 
hundred miles of country between the River St. 
Lawrence and Chesapeake Bay. The individual private 
in the Continental ranks was ill set up ; he went through 
his manual exercise like a rustic sportsman rather than 
a professional musketeer ; and the evolutions, which he 
and his comrades performed in common, were to the 
last degree rudimentary. Little care had been bestowed 
on tactical efficiency, and the decorative side of war 
received no attention whatever. The smaller men were 
placed in the front line ; but otherwise the soldiers 
were not even ranged in order of stature. Lafayette, 
coming straight from the parades of the Royal House- 
hold at Versailles, stood gazing in courteous silence 
while an American regiment took ground to its right 
" by an eternal countermarch commencing on the left 
flank." ^ The same operation, attempted a few weeks 
afterwards in the hurry of battle, contributed largely to 
the disorderly rout of Sullivan's division at Brandy- 

A most curious account of the American officers 
at Valley Forge has been given by an acute, but not 
unfriendly, witness. The Baron de Kalb, an Alsatian 
by birth, had done long and useful service in the 
cidministrative departments of the French army. Soon 
after the close of the Seven Years' War the Due de 
Choiseul despatched him with a secret commission to 
inquire into the political tendencies, and the fighting 
power, of the British colonies in America. De Kalb 
was better acquainted than most of Washington's 
generals with the military resources of their own 

1 Memoires du General Lafayette. 


country, and he spoke their language at least as well as 
any German immigrant of the second generation. He 
came across the Atlantic once again in the same ship 
as Lafayette, and had a cordial reception from Congress. 
The Commander-in-Chief, as de Kalb acknowledged 
with becoming gratitude, made up for him '* a division 
of two brigades. New Englanders all, and reputed 
to be the best troops in the army." De Kalb was no 
vulgar mercenary. Though now verging on seventy, 
he had the health which comes from rigid temperance; 
and his activity was still such that his new comrades 
took him to be under fifty. He was, however, long past 
the age when a man can take pleasure in expatriation ; 
and he continued to wear the blue and buff uniform 
from no lower motive than a sincere belief that he could 
be more useful to his own Sovereign in America than in 
France. His pay, always in arrear, was in paper-money 
at a discount of four hundred per cent; and yet he 
thankfully acknowledged that America had made 
him welcome to the utmost of her ability, and he re- 
quited her with the best which he had to give. In the 
decisive and terrible charge of the British infantry at 
the battle of Camden, when Horatio Gates ran, de Kalb 
died sword in hand, with eleven bayonet-thrusts in his 

Some of the American generals had conceived 
a most exaggerated notion of their own importance and 
dignity. They had read in French and Austrian 
gazettes about the pomp and privilege which sur- 
rounded the military hierarchy in an ancient and 
monarchical country ; and their vanity was encouraged by 
those pretentious impostors whom Silas Deane had sent 
across the ocean as samples of all that was most worthy 
of imitation in the European armies. On Christmas 
day Baron de Kalb transmitted to the Comte de Broglie 
a melancholy report of the distress which already pre- 

^ In January, 1855, ^'^ngress paid Baron de Kalb's great-grandchildren 
his arrears in full, both principal and interest. Three quarters of a cen- 
tury had brought up the total sum to sixty-six thousand dollars. 


vailed among the soldiers at Valley Forge. "The 
generals, on their part," he wrote, *' do not spare them, 
but take the whole guard assigned to their rank ; — 
the Major Generals a lieutenant and thirty men, the 
Brigadiers a sergeant and twelve men, and the Colonels 
and Captains in proportion. The lowest General has 
a Commissary, (whom he selects where he pleases,) 
a Quartermaster, a Transport Officer, and three 
Commissioners of Forage. These all have military 
rank. My farrier is a captain. The day before yester- 
day I went on duty. The general, who relieved me, 
asked if I had paraded the men the evening before. 
I told him that I never would add to the misery of the 
soldier by keeping him under arms without necessity. 
It has been cold for a month ; and they are so slow 
in mustering that that alone consumes nearly two hours. 
The general, however, sent for all his drummers and 
had a Grand Parade, and a March Past, lasting three 
quarters of an hour. It is a pity that soldiers, so sub- 
missive, and of such excellent qualities, should be so 
little cared for." 

Every foreigner, whose favourable opinion was worth 
having, admired the courage, virtue, and patriotism 
which very generally animated the commissioned ranks 
in Washington's army. Many who in private life had 
been captains of industry, or active members of a 
learned profession, now gave their whole mind to the 
business of soldiering, and had by this time sedulously 
trained themselves into good regimental officers.^ 
They needed to be conscientious and public-spirited, for 
they were not kept in order from above. A man, who 
had no self-respect, might play the shirker and the 
coward unpunished, and even unrebuked. ** An officer,"' 
said de Kalb, ** at the moment of an engagement quits 
his regiment; tells his commandant, — or does not tell 

^ " The Continental troops are not the Roiiergue Regiment ; but 
neither are they the citizen militia of Paris at the time of the Fronde. . . . 
Civilians, who had intelligence, have applied it to the military art. 
Farmers and merchants have become passable officers." Official Report 
by the Chevalier de Fleury. 


him, as the case may be, — that he has business else- 
where ; and remains away in a neighbouring town until 
the affair is over. Nobody says anything to him ; he is 
paid his emoluments as before ; and he will do the same 
thing again on the first opportunity. There are some 
who have acted on this plan ever since the war com- 
menced." ^ De Kalb himself attributed the abuses in 
the American army to the meddling of Congress, and 
saw no hope of improvement except in the vigorous inter- 
position of the Commander-in-Chief. ** General Wash- 
ington," said the old Alsatian, "■ is the most valiant and 
upright man. I am convinced that he would do good if 
he took more upon himself in the future than he has 
taken in the past." 

Congress had now burned its fingers, and had ceased 
to meddle ; and the authority of the Commander-in- 
Chief, so far as purely military matters were concerned, 
became little or nothing short of absolute. He had a 
free hand, and the leisure to use it. His own intrench- 
ments at Valley Forge defied assault ; and he could not 
attempt anything with advantage against Sir William 
Howe as long as the British troops lay secure behind 
their line of forts, and the British fleet had control of 
the Delaware River. For the first time since Washington 
had taken over the command, he saw an opportunity 
for getting his army into shape. If any European nation 
really existed whose example might be quoted in excuse 
for the irregularities and absurdities which prevailed in 
the American camp, that nation most assuredly was not 
Prussia ; and exactly at the right moment a Prussian 
veteran appeared upon the scene. Baron von Steuben 
had served with King Frederic's staff in every campaign 
of the Seven Years' War ; and, since the Peace of 
Hubertsburg, he had lived on his estate in Suabia when- 

1 A familiar type, during the first thirty months of the Revolutionary 
war, was the officer who remained away from the front, haunting the 
taverns of Albany and Boston for weeks together, bragging about his 
own performances unrler hre, and wearing his hat at the angle known 
in the British army as **the damn-my-eyes cock." 


ever he was not occupied with the duties of those lucra- 
tive, and very incongruous, employments which a 
German nobleman might hold in the easy days of the 
pre- Revolutionary epoch. He was Lieutenant General 
in the Baden army, and Grand Marshal at the court of 
the Prince of Kohenzollern Heckingen ; a knight of the 
Order of Fidelity; and, (among his other vocations,) a 
canon of the Church. The King of Sardinia, and the 
Emperor of Germany, had endeavoured to attract him by 
splendid offers ; but he had his own political opinions, 
and was silently determined never to draw his sword 
again except in the cause of liberty. 

Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge in February 
1778, and was soon afterwards appointed Inspector 
General of the Army in place of Conway, who had 
made the post a sinecure. On reaching his quarters 
the Baron found an officer and twenty-five men stationed 
at the door as a guard of honour, whom he promptly 
sent about their business. His next step was to draft six 
or seven score of soldiers, from various line battalions, 
as a body-guard for the Commander-in-Chief ; and then 
he proceeded, in the old Potsdam style, to put this 
detachment through the Potsdam discipline. He rose 
at three every morning ; drank his coffee, and smoked 
his pipe ; and got on horseback by sunrise. He was, 
(we are told,) an ardent advocate of direct personal 
contact between officer and private, and had no patience 
with the British custom of making over the awkward 
squad to sergeants.^ He might constantly be seen in 
face of a line of soldiers, with a semicircle of captains 
and lieutenants behind him, giving the word of com- 
mand, short and sharp, and going through the motions 
with a musket. At first he delivered his instructions 
with an interpreter at his side, who, according to the 
military legend, was particularly enjoined to swear at 
delinquents in their mother tongue ; but von Steuben 
very soon contrived to make himself understood when 

^ The Private Soldier under Washington^ Chapter i. 


he had anything of importance to communicate.^ Within 
a fortnight, (according to his own statement,) his com- 
pany " were perfect in their manual exercise ; had 
acquired a military air ; and knew how to march, to 
form column, to deploy, and to execute some little 
manoeuvres with admirable precision." Then he took 
another batch in hand, and sent back their predecessors 
to be teachers and fuglemen in their respective regi- 
ments throughout the army. Before many weeks had 
elapsed the President of Congress received a most re- 
assuring letter from his son at Valle}^ Forge. ** Baron 
Steuben," wrote Colonel Laurens, **is making sensible 
progress with our soldiers. The officers seem to have 
a high opinion of him, and discover a docility from 
which we may augur the most happy effects. It would 
enchant you to see the enlivened scene of our Campus 
Martius. If Mr. Howe opens the campaign with his 
usual deliberation, we shall be infinitely better prepared 
to meet him than ever we have been."^ Mr. Howe 
and Sir Henry Clinton, between them, gave von Steuben 
all the spring, and half the summer, to complete the 
task which he had undertaken ; and the American 
soldier thenceforward superadded an exact discipline 
to the cleverness of his nation, and the courage of his 
race. No more thorough a piece of work, in that depart- 
ment of human affairs, was ever again accompHshed 
until Sir John Moore formed and trained for battle, at 
the camp of ShorncUffe, the regiments which will always 
be known to fame as Lord Wellington's Light Division.^ 

^ Von Steuben learned to talk vigorous P'nglish, and the anecdote- 
books are full of his sayings. When a shell fell near him at Yorktown, 
he jumped into a trench, followed closely by Anthony Wayne, who tum- 
bled over him. Perceiving that it was his own Brigadier, the Baron 
said : " I always knew you were a brave officer, but I did not know you 
were so perfect in every point of duty. You cover your general's retreat 
in the best manner possible." 

2 John Laurens to Henry Laurens ; Headquarters, Valley Forge, April 

I, 1778. 

^ During the three earliest years of the war from five to eight thousand 
American muskets had disappeared annually. Most of them were carried 
away as keepsakes by departing soldiers. It was a custom which would 


Von Steuben was remoulding the infantry ; General 
Knox could be trusted to restore the efficiency of the 
artillery ; and Washington himself took measures to 
remedy the most glaring of all the defects in the com- 
position of his army. If he had begun the campaign 
with a respectable force of cavalry, numerous enough 
to cover his own front and watch the movements of the 
enemy, his advance-guard need never have been sur- 
prised at Paoli, and even Brandywine might have told 
another tale. Such a force the Commander-in-Chief 
now made it his special business to create. Everything 
which concerned the enlistment, the equipment, and, 
(above all,) the mounting of his troopers was a laboui 
of love, performed in congenial company. Major Henry 
Lee was a young man of high promise, and the son of 
an old flame of George Washington, who had been 
early, and always, susceptible to the gentle passion until 
his affections were irrevocably fixed by marriage. Al- 
ready known for a dashing leader of partisans, Henry 
Lee soon reached supremacy in every branch of soldier- 
ship ; and in his late manhood he became the father of a 
hero who holds rank among the very greatest soldiers of 
the modern world. ^ He was a native of Washington's 
own county, — a brother Virginian with whom, when 
the day's work was done, the General liked well to sit, 
and talk horses.^ Major Lee enrolled, and commanded, 
two troops of light dragoons ; and a third troop was 
added before operations recommenced. The American 

not have endeared itself to Frederic the Great ; and, in the first twelve 
months of von Steuben's Inspectorship, fewer than twenty fire-arms were 
lost to the nation. Fiske's Revolution ; Chapter X. 

1 Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, was born when Henry Lee 
was long past fifty. 

2 " I found," wrote Stuart the artist, " that it was difficult to interest 
Washington in conversation while I was taking his portrait. I began on 
the Revolution, — the battles of Monmouth and Princeton; but he was 
absolutely dumb. After a while I got on horses. I had touched the 
right chord." Washington was then President of the United States, and 
residing in Philadelphia, where he had a stable of six and twenty. He 
used to say that he asked but one good quality in a horse, to go along ; 
for he could always keep his saddle, provided the animal kept upon its 


cavalry had small beginnings, and never attained very 
large dimensions ; but it was a serviceable instrument 
of war from the first moment, and ultimately it played 
a memorable part in deciding the campaign which pre- 
served Georgia and the Carolinas to the Union. 

Before Lafayette was many weeks older he returned 
to Valley Forge, disgusted and disillusioned. He had in- 
formed his wife, with pardonable exultation, that he had 
been appointed to the independent command of a small 
but sufficient army, and honoured by a mission to liber- 
ate New France from British oppression.^ The bastard 
soldiers on the Board of War, whose one and only object 
was to sow jealousy between him and Washington, and 
who had made no preparations whatever for an attack 
upon Canada, had told the Marquis that he would have 
at his disposal at least three thousand good troops, 
equipped for a winter march. Horatio Gates expressly 
assured him that General Stark had called out the New 
England militia, and would by that time have destroyed 
the hostile flotilla at St. John's in the Sorel River. When 
Lafayette arrived at Albany he found just twelve hun- 
dred ill-fed, unpaid, and half-naked soldiers ; and the 
Green Mountain Boys, like people of sense, flatly re- 
fused to stir from home. The plain truth was, that 
Stark, and all his New Hampshiremen, infinitely pre- 
ferred the English to the French as their neighbours 
on the other side of the border. A handful of Quebec 
Whigs, with the inveterate and incurable self-deception 
of the political exile, promised the young Frenchman 
that, as soon as ever he crossed the frontier, the Cana- 
dians would rise to a man against King George and his 
government. But Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Lin- 
coln wrote from their sick-beds to remonstrate against 
the proposed expedition. The views of those admirable 
soldiers were enforced by the sound judgment, and the 
unequalled local knowledge, of Philip Schuyler ; and 
Congress, in terms handsomely chosen to show their 
sympathy with Lafayette under his disappointment, 

1 Lafayette a Madame Lafayette ; Yorck, 3 Fevrier, 1778. 


ordered him to suspend his northward movement, and 
rejoin Washington's army. 

The Americans had been wise in time. A very warm 
reception was awaiting them in Canada, where Sir Guy 
Carleton had assembled all the British and German 
regiments, and had concentrated them in an advanced 
position at the actual point of danger. They were at 
liberty to bestow their undistracted attention upon the 
invader ; for the French inhabitants were tranquil and 
contented, and by no means unfriendly to their rulers. 
Carleton's habitual respect for their religion, their lan- 
guage, and their social institutions, and the vigilance 
with which he suppressed every attempt to insult or 
ill-use them, had won their affection for himself, and 
secured their loyalty to the Crown. When the peril 
was over he sailed for England, superseded from office, 
and in disgrace, — as far as an honest man could be dis- 
graced by incurring the displeasure of such a minister 
as Lord George Germaine. Sir Guy Carleton had 
saved Canada by pursuing the exact reverse, in every 
particular, of the infatuated policy which alienated, and 
lost to the empire, our thirteen American colonies. 

In the course of that same spring Charles Lee 
returned to the Republican lines from an exceedingly 
uncomfortable captivity. Sir William Howe had threat- 
ened to try him by Court Martial as a deserter. When 
he wrote to expostulate, his letters were sent back to 
him unopened, and enclosed in an envelope addressed 
not to "General Lee," not even to "Charles Lee, Es- 
quire," but bearing the ominous superscription of " Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Lee," which was his rank in the British 
service. He had been placed under close arrest, and 
perhaps was only saved from a worse fate by the 
emphasis of Washington's remonstrances. His fellow- 
countrymen, alarmed for his safety, made repeated 
efforts to have him included in the negotiations for a 
barter of prisoners. Congress was prepared to bid as 
high for him as five Hessian field-officers, with an 
English colonel thrown in ; and he was eventually 


released in exchange for a warrior who, it must be ad- 
mitted, very fairly represented Charles Lee's genuine 
market value. General Prescott had, twice over and 
very easily, been made prisoner by the Americans, who 
came to regard him as a convenient circulating medium 
for buying back their own captured generals.^ Towards 
the middle of April, Lee arrived at York, on a very bad 
horse, with his vanity still as alert, and his literary style 
as eccentric, as ever. He wrote to Washington that he 
had lately been studying Marshal Saxe and Machiavel's 
Institutions, and that he now understood the art of 
drawing up an army in the field better than almost 
any man living. "In short," he said, *' I am mounting 
on a hobby-horse of my own training, and it runs away 
with me. You must excuse me, therefore, if I could 
not forbear recommending the beast to some members 
of Congress." Washington took this communication very 
lightly. He congratulated Lee on his restoration to 
freedom, and thanked him for his letter. " The con- 
tents," he added, " shall be the subject of conversation 
when I have the pleasure of seeing you in circum- 
stances to mount your hobby-horse; which will not, I 
hope, on trial be found quite so limping a jade as the 
one on which you set out for York." ^ 

Mrs. Washington had joined her husband at Valley 
Forge before the worst period of misery was over. 
Like Frederic the Great, during his seven years of 
marches and bivouacs, George Washington never resided 
at his home while the war was in progress ; but, unlike 
that monarch, he had a wife whose companionship was 

1 Prescott, early in the war, when attacked by Richard Montgomery 
on the river St. Lawrence, had tamely surrendered himself, a detachment 
of British soldiers, and eleven armed vessels for the safety of which he was 
responsible. He was exchanged for Sullivan, and placed in command on 
Rhode Island, whence he was taken out of his bed by a party of American 
raiders, and carried to the mainland in his night shirt. Prescott is 
remembered as a tyrannical, violent-tempered man, — a terror to the 
revolted colonists everywhere except in battle. He was in all respects a 
different personage from Robert Prescott, then a colonel in Howe's army, 
afterwards a general of renown, and a humane and capable administrator. 

2 Washington to Charles Lee ; Valley Forge, 22 April, 1778. 


essential to his happiness, and who was not kept from 
his side by any consideration of danger to herself. She 
said on one occasion that she always heard the first, 
and the last, guns of every campaign ; ^ and now, by 
the middle of February, she was settled in the old 
Quaker's stone house at the angle between the ravine 
and the river. "The General's apartment," she wrote, 
'*is very small. H3 has had a log cabin built to dine 
in, which has made our quarters much more tolerable 
than they were at first." The cabin has disappeared ; 
but the house remains, with two little ground-floor 
rooms, and a deep east window, beneath the sill 
of which is a cavity where Washington kept hi'* 
secret papers. Many years afterwards an ancient lady 
who, as a girl of sixteen, attended Mrs. Washington 
on her errands of mercy in that camp of sorrow, 
used to say that she had never known so busy a 
woman. During the whole of every week-day her 
sitting-room was filled with the wives of officers, patch- 
ing garments, knitting stockings, and cutting out shirts, 
for the soldiers ; and she herself, in the intervals of her 
needle-work, was continually to be seen entering the 
regimental huts with a basket on her arm, to comfort 
the sick with wholesome food prepared by her own 
hands, or to pray '*in a sweet solemn voice" beside 
the straw pallets of the dying.^ 

When times mended, and a rude abundance pre- 
vailed in the cantonments, Washington, who had the 
planter's inclination to hospitality, began once more 
to keep open house for as many guests as his dining- 
shed would accommodate.^ It was not a stiff or a 
noiseless meal ; for his " family," as he called them, were 
a vivacious crew. Alexander Hamilton carved at the 

1 Life of Catherine Schuyler^ by Mary Gay Humphreys ; Chapter ii. 

2 Life of Martha Washington^ by Anne Hollingsworth Wharton; 
Chapter 7. 

3 From the moment that the war ended there was a constant stream 
of visitors at Mount Vernon. The master of the house " recorded, as a 
noteworthy fact, after they had been at home more than a year, that for 
the first time he and Mrs. Washington dined alone." 


head of the table, leading the laughter, and providing, 
in very superior quality, the homage which lady-guests 
have a right to expect in a military household ; while 
Baron von Steuben, whom the aides-de-camp venerated 
as a sort of jovial Mentor, recounted in queer and 
graphic English his manifold experiences of courts, and 
camps, and cities. No stranger, with any reasonable 
claim upon Mrs. Washington's good-nature, was turned 
away unfed, and, (in cases of real distress,) uncheered 
and unassisted. A party of Tory Quakeresses from 
Philadelphia, on the way south to visit their banished 
husbands, received much attention from the Com- 
mander-in-Chief and his wife, whom they gratefully 
described as ** a pretty, sociable kind of woman." ^ 
She certainly was pretty, and noticeably plump, which 
at her age were not incompatible. As spring advanced, 
the American matrons at Valley Forge formed a large 
and, in a quiet way, a distinguished company. Lady 
Stirling was there ; and handsome, cheerful Mrs. Knox, 
of whom it has been said that she followed the army 
like the drum. The sight of them aroused sad and 
longing thoughts in the breast of Lafayette ; although 
he carefully and loyally explained in his letters home 
that he did not envy his colleagues their wives, but the 
power of having their wives with them. 

Mrs. Nathanael Greene, who had used her oppor- 
tunities when a school-girl, talked the French of a 
Rhode Island academy so courageously that her general's 
narrow quarters were crowded of an evening with 
foreign officers. There was no space in the hut for 
dancing, and no card-table ; since all games of chance 
were strictly prohibited by Washington's orders. ^ " But 
there was tea and coffee, and pleasant conversation 

"^ Journal of Mrs. Henry Drinker \ April 6, 1778. 

2 " Gaming of every kind is expressly forbidden, as being the founda- 
tion of evil, and the cause of many a brave officer's ruin. Games of exer- 
cise for amusement may not only be permitted, but encouraged." 
Circular from the Commander-in-Chief to the Brigadier Generals^ 
Morristown, May 26, 1777. Playing cards had been specifically mentioned 
in a previous General Order. 



always, and music often, — no one who had a good voice 
being allowed to refuse a song." ^ The hostess had still 
many years of life before her ; but her brave husband 
was taken from her very shortly after the triumph of 
the cause for which he had so stoutly fought. His 
place in the estimation of the American people is in-- 
dicated by the deference which everywhere attended 
his widow. Whenever she visited Mrs. Washington, 
the President, however deeply he was engaged, always 
made a point of handing her to her carriage himself ; 
and her humbler countrymen paid her the same com- 
pliment that they paid to their President's wife, and 
insisted upon calling her Lady Greene. American 
women have since then come into very much grander 
titles ; but none of those titles are more honourable 
than hers, or will be longer and more respectfully 

On May Day, 1778, it was known in camp that 
Treaties of Commerce and Alliance between the Crown 
of France, and the Government of the United States, 
had been signed in Paris. Most of the soldiers were 
politicians enough to appreciate the full significance 
of the tidings that their Republic had been recognised 
as one of the Family of Nations by the second naval 
and military power in the world. Washington, in a 
General Order, counselled his followers to direct their 
gratitude to the quarter where, in his own belief, grati- 
tude was due. " It having pleased the Almighty Ruler 
of the universe to defend the cause of the United 
American States, and finally to raise us up a powerful 
friend, among the princes of the earth, to establish our 
liberty and independence upon a lasting foundation, it 
becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknow- 
ledging the Divine goodness, and celebrating the im- 
portant event which we owe to his Divine interposition." 
So the proclamation ran ; and, on the following Thurs- 
day, the troops were under arms by dawn. Prayers 

1 The Life of Nathanael Greene^ by George Washington Greene; 
Book Second, Chapter 25. 


were offered, and the customary Thanksgiving Sermon, 
which has been happily called the Te Deum of New 
England, was preached at the head of every brigade. 
Baron von Steuben, with his five assistants in his 
train, passed slowly through the regiments, inspecting 
weapons and accoutrements, and giving a finishing 
touch to the dressing of the ranks. ^ The whole army 
advanced, in review order, towards the high ground 
from which Washington, accompanied by Nathanael 
Greene in his unaccustomed character of a quasi- 
civilian, surveyed the imposing spectacle. The men 
were still poorly clothed ; ^ but they stepped along 
with firelocks sloped and heads erect, looking, for the 
first time, like the soldiers that they were. Thirteen 
cannon-shots were discharged, slowly and successively ; 
and a running fire passed up and down from right to 
left, and left to right, along a line of ten thousand 
muskets. There was huzzaing for the King of France, 
and for the Friendly European Powers, followed by a 
storm of cheers in honour of the American Nation. A 
banquet of fifteen hundred covers stood ready beneath 
an amphitheatre of tent-cloth, to which the officers 
marched in procession, thirteen abreast, with arms 
closely linked, as an emblem of the union of their 
thirteen States. It was a counter-pageant to the Mes- 
chianza, without the tissue and the spangles, but 
with more of meaning. The rank and file obtained 
their share of the ^ood things which had been pro- 

1 Life of Nathanael Greene ; Book Third, Chapter 2. The account of 
Valley Forge, in Mr. George Washington Greene's volumes, is interesting 
from first to last. 

'^ The Clothing Department continued to be administered by the Board 
of War. " An application for linen for thirteen thousand shirts, and 
fifteen thousand overalls, was answered by a promise of thirty thousand 
yards. Some three months afterwards, thirteen hundred yards arrived; 
but it proved so poor that it was all rejected." Three hundred hats 
were so small that th<.-y had to be re-sold, and blankets thought to be 
large enough for a pair of men were found too narrow for one. Not until 
November, i 778, was Washington able to inform the President of Congress 
that his soldiers had the clothes which they needed. The Administration 
of the Revolutionary Army ; Chapter 6. Washington Correspondence. 

Z 2 


vided. Continental soldiers, under arrest for a pecca- 
dillo, were set at liberty to enjoy the day ; and a spy 
from the hostile lines, who had been detected and 
seized, was. dismissed unharmed after giving a promise 
that he would faithfully recount to his employers 
everything which he had heard and witnessed. Man- 
kind was welcome to learn that America was once 
again, and better than ever, armed at all points for the 
ordeal of battle. 

The country felt an unwonted sense of strength, and 
an instinctive confidence that the worst was over. 
Everybody praised Washington ; and Washington was 
careful to remind his fellow-citizens how very much of 
the credit should be allotted to others besides himself. 
A European admirer had sent him some epaulettes and 
sword-knots, for presentation to those generals whom he 
thought fit to honour; and he accordingly gave them 
to Arnold and Lincoln, as a mark of his regard for two 
brave men whose shining conduct, at the most critical 
of emergencies, had been rewarded by very severe 
wounds, and an almost total absence of official notice and 
commendation. 1 Still less did George Washington for- 
get what he owed to the army which had gone through 
the season of affliction at Valley Forge. Taking an 
early opportunity for paying his tribute to that humble, 
but invaluable, military virtue which, in the judgment 
of foreign critics, was the peculiar characteristic of 
the American private, he thanked his troops for their 
" uncomplaining patience " during the recent scarcity 
of provisions in camp. Their conduct, (he said,) had 
shown that they possessed in an eminent degree the 
spirit of soldiers, and the magnanimity of patriots. His 
words went home to many hearts ; for the dismal reports 
which arrived from the encampment on the Schuylkill 

^ Towards the end of December, 1777, ^ surgeon in the Continental 
army sent a report of their condition from the hospital at Albany. 
"General Lincoln," he said, "is in a fair way of recovery. He is the 
patient Christian. Not so the gallant Arnold ; for his wound, though 
less dangerous in the beginning than Lincoln's, is not in so fair a way of 
healing. He abuses us as a set of ignorant pretenders." 


River, during those black months, had brought alarm 
and anguish to countless families. Americans were pre- 
eminently a domestic people ; and, in every age of the 
world, the favourite son of the household is the son who 
has gone to the war.^ The proud and mournful tradi- 
tions of that winter survived, for many a long year, in 
every township of every State, and have taken a firm 
hold on the imagination of posterity. Nations, like the 
readers of fiction, love a sad story which ends well ; and 
the name of Valley Forge will never cease to be associ- 
ated with the memory of sufferings quietly and stead- 
fastly borne, but not endured in vain. 

On the twenty-fourth of May Sir William Howe 
relinquished the command to Sir Henry Clinton, and 
embarked for England. " I am just returned," wrote 
Captain Andre, *' from conducting our beloved General 
to the water-side, and have seen him receive a more 
flattering testimony of the love and attachment of his 
army than all the splendour and pomp of the Meschi- 
anza could convey to him. I have seen the most 
gallant of our officers, and those whom I least suspected 
of giving such instances of their affection, shed tears 
while they bade him farewell." Howe did not wear his 
heart on his sleeve ; and he never, either by speech or 
letter, gave an indication of the feelings with which he 
took his final departure from that land of baffled hopes 

1 " Plus amat e natis mater plerumque duobus 
Pro cujus reditu, quod gerit arma, timet." 

So, eighteen hundred years before, the Roman poet had written; and so 
American mothers felt, — all the more because they understood and loved 
the cause which their sons were defending. The sentiment was reflected 
in the popular art of the hour. One of the many pictures inspired by 
this motive is described in a sale-catalogue of the Revolutionary period. 
A young militiaman, just returned from his first campaign, was represented 
sitting in the kitchen of a log-house, " his clothes torn and ragged," while 
a meal was prepared for him by the negro servants. ** Facing him sits his 
old mother, and behind his chair his sister leans. Next to her is another 
sister, with a sucking child at her breast, listening attentively ; the 
passions that agitate their minds extremely well expressed in their coun- 


and lost opportunities.^ His troops, who had never 
experienced defeat while fighting under his own eye, 
admired him as enthusiastically, and believed in him as 
imphcitly, as ever. 

"Chained to our arms, while Howe the battle led, 
Still round these files her wings shall Conquest spread. 
Loved though he goes, the spirit still remains 
That with him bore us o'er these trembling plains. 
On Hudson's banks ^ the sure presage we read 
Of other triumphs to our arms decreed ; 
Nor fear but equal honours shall repay 
Each hardy deed where Clinton leads the way." 

These martial verses from a soldier's pen, which at 
all events were as good as much that then passed for 
poetry among civilians in England, faithfully expressed 
the aspirations of a most valiant army. But the 
prophecy did not meet with fulfilment. The tide of 
British conquest had already attained its utmost limit, 
and even the retention of Philadelphia was to the last 
degree precarious. The foresight of Washington, and 
the supreme importance of the reasons which had led 
him to take an audacious resolution, and to persevere 
in it under appalling difficulties, were now patent to 
the world. People had wondered, in some cases mock- 
ingly and contemptuously, at his pertinacity in clinging 
to Valley Forge " as if he had bought the freehold of 
it ; " but nobody wondered now. The motives of his 
strategy had been described to the British ministry by 
Joseph Galloway, as sagacious a Loyalist as any in 
America. General Washington, (this gentleman wrote,) 

1 A brief and telling account of the principal occasions upon which 
destruction must have overtaken the Americans, if Sir William Howe 
had been alive to kis chances, is incidentally given in a letter from 
Washington to Governor Trumbull. The passage is quoted in the Second 
Appendix at the end of the volume. 

2 This was an allusion to the capture, by Sir Henry Clinton, of two 
strong forts overlooking the Hudson River. The affair took place on the 
sixth October, 1777. 

The lines were written by Captain Andre as part of "an address 
intended to have been spoken at the Meschianza by a Herald, holding in 
his hand a Laurel-wreath." The Gentleman! s Magazine for August 


had fixed his winter-quarters only two-and-twenty miles 
from Philadelphia, with a design to command the rural 
districts of Pennsylvania ; to have access to the Jerseys, 
and keep up his communication with the eastern prov- 
inces ; to secure his retreat over the Susquehanna ; 
and, until then, to cut off supplies from the English 
garrison in the city. Washington, as a matter of fact, 
had no more idea of retreating over the Susquehanna 
than over the Mississippi ; but, in all other respects, 
Galloway accurately divined his intentions. 

It was a bold and a sound plan which, before the 
end of May 1778, had developed itself into triumphant 
performance. Planted on the flank of his enemy, — just 
so far away as to be secure against surprise, but 
sufficiently near to profit by every opening for aggres- 
sive action, — Washington had, by this time, regiments 
enough to guard his own camp, and to dominate Penn- 
sylvania. His flying columns swept the more remote 
townships clear of food and fodder, and left a bare 
larder for the British Commissariat. His light dragoons, 
few in number, but riding choice horses which were 
regularly and plentifully fed, suppressed the traffic be- 
tween the suburban farmers, and their customers in the 
city, with complete immunity to themselves.^ Henry 

1 It was not easy to force the Americans to battle against their will. 
They had always been able to take very good care of themselves as 
individuals, and they had now learned to manoeuvre in masses. To- 
wards the latter end of May two thousand infantry had been detached 
from their main army under the charge of Lafayette. They were sur- 
rounded by more than twice their own number of royal troops; and Sir 
William Howe made so sure of effecting their capture that, before leaving 
Philadelphia for the front, he invited a party of ladies to meet the French 
Marquis at supper. But the Continental officers took the alarm just in 
time, and extricated themselves, and their artillery, from an almost 
hopeless position with extraordinary coolness and agility. 

Earlier in the year news came to Philadelphia that Harry Lee was 
lodged in a solitary dwelling, with a very slender escort. Emulous of 
Colonel Harcourt's celebrated exploit, nearly two hundred royal dragoons 
made a night-march of twenty miles, and beset the house in which the 
American cavalryman lay ; but they found on this occasion that they had 
to do with the wrong sort of Lee for their purposes. Though he had not a 
soldier for each window, the young fellow made so stout a fight that he 
beat off his assailants in a style which delighted Washington. 


Lee and his cavaliers very soon made the neighbour- 
hood too hot for small parties of English and German 
foragers ; and, when the Royal troops went forth to 
collect provisions, they seldom ventured to march in less 
strength than a full brigade. Their generals reluctantly 
acknowledged that Pennsylvania, to all intents and 
purposes, had become a hostile province ; while New 
Jersey blazed like a fiery furnace of revolution on the 
eastern shore of the Delaware. The force commanded 
by Sir Henry Clinton was no longer a field-army with 
unfettered liberty of movement, subsisting on the 
resources, and protecting the loyalty, of the Central 
Colonies. It was the isolated, the beleaguered, and, 
(so far as access by dry land was in question,) the 
jealously and closely blockaded garrison of a single city; 
and a garrison, moreover, which would very soon be 
needed elsewhere. The Comte d'Estaing, accompanied 
by twelve French sail of the line, and a batch of frigates 
with four thousand good French infantry on board, 
might be expected off the American coast before the 
summer was much older. All through May and June 
he was making the best of his way, (though that best was 
very bad,)across the Atlantic Ocean; and the result might 
be extremely serious if he should arrive in New York 
Bay while the British army at Philadelphia was distant 
a hundred and twenty miles by road, and the British 
squadron in the Delaware three hundred miles by water. 
Philadelphia was henceforward reduced to depend 
on the Delaware for the transport of food as exclu- 
sively as London depended on the Thames for coal. 
It was a difficult matter to protect the navigation of 
a river when both its shores were in the possession 
of a vigilant enemy. In the daytime, Washington's 
artillery officers brought down cannon to judiciously 
selected points along the course of the channel ; and, 
when night fell, the Jerseymen put off in skiffs to the 
attack of any cattle-ship, or string of flour-barges, 
whose crew kept a bad watch. But the forty leagues 
of open sea, between the Capes of the Delaware and 


Sandy Point, were the most hazardous stage of the 
voyage from New York to Philadelphia ; for the Ameri- 
can privateers were driving a roaring trade. To range 
the ocean under a letter of marque was an excitement, 
and almost a pastime, for those fishermen and ship- 
masters of the Eastern States whom, in an evil hour for 
British commerce, the British Parliament had banished 
from the exercise of their accustomed callings. Some 
among them, in the quietest of times, had never been 
averse to an occasional turn at smugghng ; and they 
now fastened eagerly upon an occupation which had 
an appearance of reconciling the claims of patriotic 
duty with the attractions of an adventurous life, and 
the prospect of enormous gains. A very small company 
of ill-armed and half-manned American vessels captured, 
in one month, nine large merchantmen, with cargoes 
valued at a hundred and forty thousand pounds sterling. 
The zest of success was sharpened by the varied, and 
very uncertain, character of the spoil. Two lucky 
privateers, — for they usually cruised in couples, — 
brought into port three West Indiamen, carrying more 
than twenty thousand dollars in specie, and above a 
thousand hogsheads of sugar ; fifty pipes of the best 
Madeira wine ; and a very fine turtle destined for Lord 
North, '' with his Lordship's name nicely cut on the 
shell, which was yesterday presented by the captain 
to the worthy President of the American Congress." ^ 
Everything on board the prizes was money, or money's 
worth ; and not a few of them were laden with warlike 
stores which were despatched straight from the quay- 
side to Washington's camp. The inventories of the 
booty included great quantities of arms and ammuni- 
tion, besides many hundred suits of military clothing. 
Seven ship-loads of provisions, sent from England and 
Ireland for the use of the royal troops, were taken off 
the coast of Rhode Island at a single haul. It was 
reckoned that the Americans, by the end of 1778, had 
captured nearly a thousand merchant-ships, valued at 

1 American Archives. 


about two million pounds ; ^ and the perils of the sea 
were enormously enhanced as soon as French frigates 
made their appearance in the Western waters.^ 

The military situation at Philadelphia had become 
very bad ; and, to those who looked below the surface, 
the social and political conditions, which prevailed in 
the district occupied by the royal army, were of still 
more gloomy omen for the royal cause. Sir William 
Howe's campaign had been undertaken on the theory 
that a great majority of Pennsylvanians, and Mary- 
landers, and New Jerseymen were sincere well-wishers 
to the English Crown, — ready and willing to declare 
themselves against the Revolution as soon as Washing- 
ton was defeated, and driven outside their borders. 
From that moment forward the rich and populous 
Central Colonies, administered by a stable and vigorous 
government of prominent Loyalists, would be a citadel 
of royalism in the sense that New England was a citadel 
of rebellion. But these fair hopes were soon dispersed. 
The relations between the British generals, and the 
American Tories, were uncomfortable, and mutually 
unprofitable, from the very first ; and both parties 
grew less and less satisfied with each other as the war 
went on. 

Sir William Howe's cherished project for increasing, 
and perhaps even doubling, the strength of his army 

1 The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1 660- 1 783; by Captain 
A. T. Mahan ; Chapter 9. 

2 Those perils occupy much space in Lord Carlisle's New York 
journals and correspondence. The packet which was to bring him letters 
from his wife never reached its destination. "The transport," he wrote, 
" with all my things, I suppose is also taken ; and Monsieur d'Estaing will 
go about in my carriage, and drink all my wine," When a colonel, who 
bored him, sailed for England, the fastidious young nobleman professed 
to regret that the obnoxious officer would fall into the hands of French 
or Americans, and not of Turks; since the vulgar notion was that the Turks 
cut out the tongue of those whom they made their prisoners. There was a 
period in the summer of 1778 during which naval opinion in New York 
estimated the chances against an unarmed ship reaching England at 
three to one. The Manuscripts of the Earl of Carlisle, preserved at 
Castle Howard. Historical Manuscripts Commission ; Fifteenth Report, 
Appendix, Part VI, 


by the aid of local levies began, and ended, in flat dis- 
appointment. "In May ijyS," (he wrote,) ''when I 
left America, nine hundred and seventy-four men con- 
stituted all the force that could be collected in Penn- 
sylvania, after the most indefatigable exertions, during 
eight months;" whereas more than ten times that 
number of New England farmers and frontiersmen, in 
half as many weeks, had shouldered their weapons and 
marched forth to oppose Burgoyne. The small people 
among the Pennsylvanian Loyalists had no mind for 
fighting ; and their great men shrank from responsi- 
bility, and neither cared, nor dared, to govern. They 
had not a Franklin, or a John Adams, or a Robert 
Morris, or still less a Washington, among them ; and 
such willingness as any of them displayed to serve the 
King, met with very scanty encouragement from the 
King's representatives. The military authorities showed 
themselves blind to the duty, and inferior to the task, 
of organising an efficient and self-respecting civil govern- 
ment in those portions of the Continent which had been 
conquered by the royal arms. One most fatal impedi- 
ment to the recovery of America by the Crown was 
the startling contrast between the methods of adminis- 
tration within, and without, the British lines. On the 
one side of that boundary were to be seen rulers like 
Jonathan Trumbull, and WiUiam Livingston, and George 
Clinton, — chosen by the people ; trusted and obeyed by 
the people ; supported and advised by freely elected 
State Assemblies ; husbanding and dispensing the 
finances of their respective provinces in the interest of 
the national defence ; and acting in friendly concert, 
and on a footing of complete equality, with the generals 
of the national army. On the other side was military 
domination, untempered and unchecked, and too often 
insolent, ignorant, and lax even beyond the bounds of 
honesty ; military police-courts substituted for the tri- 
bunals of the land ; arbitrary and degrading punishments 
inflicted upon peaceable, well-affected, Tory citizens 
who had given some chance offence to this Town Major, 


or that German colonel; forced requisitions in the 
place of voted taxes ; commissaries and contractors 
subjected to no trained and intelligent official control, 
jobbing and stealing with assured impunity, and going 
home in rapid succession to set up as country gentle- 
men in England. The inevitable consequences of such 
a system were plainly set forth in a memorial addressed 
to Lord CarUsle by the Chief Justice of New York. 
"The Americans," (so the Judge wrote,) ''whether 
Loyalists, or reduced and helpless Rebels, will naturally 
grow impatient if they find themselves under a govern- 
ment perfectly military, and will soon look out for that 
happiness which is only to be enjoyed under a com- 
plete establishment of Civil Police. . . . New York, 
my Lord, exhibits proof that the government of an 
army will please only in the tumultuous joy of the first 
moment of redemption." 

Our acquaintance with these deplorable transactions 
is mainly, and indeed almost exclusively, derived from 
Tory sources. American Whigs took very little account 
of scandals and abuses known to them only by report ; 
but the Loyalist pamphleteers and historians had been 
eyewitnesses and victims of that maladministration to 
which, more than to any other single circumstance, 
they attributed the ultimate ruin of their cause. ^ Phila- 
delphia was a royal garrison-town only for as many 
months as the years during which New York suffered 
under the same dispensation ; but in Philadelphia, no 
less than in New York, the blight of military occupa- 
tion was destructive to the vitality, the independence, 
and the energy of the city. Municipal self-government 
was at once extinguished, and the resident citizens 
were excluded from public employment unless they 
were willing to accept the rank of underlings and 

1 The internal history of New York City during the Revolutionary War 
is narrated in minute, but not superfluous or uninstructive, detail by Judge 
Jones in the eight chapters at the commencement of his second volume ; 
and in his first volume, in a chapter entitled " The Base Transactions 
of Commissaries, Quartermasters, and Barrackmasters, and Engineers in 


instruments. Among those citizens Joseph Galloway 
stood first in the general estimation. He was a learned 
lawyer, and an advocate in very large practice, who 
had been sent by his fellow-townsmen as a delegate to 
the first Continental Congress. As a member of the 
old Pennsylvanian Assembly he had held his own with, 
and afterwards against, Benjamin Franklin; and he 
had presided over its deliberations, with rare distinc- 
tion, in the character of Speaker. His loyalty to the 
throne was beyond dispute. The turbulence and dis- 
order which were engendered by the opposition to the 
Stamp Act had alienated his sympathies from the popular 
party ; and his dislike of the Revolution was intensified 
by an aversion to Presbyterians, whom in his own mind 
he associated " with rioters, and the baser elements of 
society." ^ He was the man, of all others, who could 
have filled in Pennsylvania a commanding position, 
analogous to that which Governor Trumbull occupied 
in Connecticut ; but there was no such place for Joseph 
Galloway in his own colony, or even in his own city. 
Sir William Howe, as a recognition of his merits, 
appointed him to be a sort of superior police officer, 
charged with the issue of regulations governing trade 
and markets, the entrance of boats and vessels, and the 
care of streets and lamps. He was expected, moreover, 
to compile a political census of the inhabitants, mark- 
ing out the disaffected from the loyal for the guidance 
and information of the Provost Marshal. Those were 
the most exalted functions which, under military rule, 
were allotted to the most eminent civilian who was then 
domiciled in the capital of Pennsylvania. 

Many Loyalist householders of Philadelphia had 
hailed the rehabilitation of the King's authority with 
a pleasant sense of approaching peace and comfort, and 
of departed danger. They believed themselves to have 
seen the last of revolutionary tyranny, and of paper 
dollars ; and they fondly imagined that commercial 

^ Joieph Galloway, the Loyalist Politician ; by Ernest H. Baldwin, 


prosperity would forthwith revive, and that every 
honest man would thenceforward live in undisturbed 
enjoyment of his property, and secure possession of his 
home. On the twenty-sixth September, 1777, Robert 
Morton, an ardent partisan of the English connection, 
made the following entry in his private diary. "■ About 
eleven o'clock Lord Cornwallis marched into this city 
with his division of the British and auxiliary troops, to 
the great relief of the inhabitants who have too long 
suffered the yoke of arbitrary power. . . . This day has 
put a period to the existence of Continental money in 
this city. Esto perpetua ! " 

The Pennsylvanian Tories were faithful subjects of 
King George ; but they had American hearts, and they 
felt a qualm of humiliation and disquietude when the 
long column of Hessians poured down their street, with 
the swing and swagger of an invading army. The 
forebodings of the most timid among the spectators 
were abundantly and promptly justified ; for the Ger- 
man colonels made it very apparent that they viewed 
Philadelphia as a conquered city. Bred in an atmos- 
phere of privilege and despotism, they were not at the 
trouble, when dealing with Americans, to distinguish 
between one social class, or political party, and another. 
In their eyes the whole population was a homogeneous 
mass of low-born, ill-conditioned, and exceedingly im- 
pertinent, plebeians. They were all rebels together, 
in act or inclination ; and the least admirable among 
them were those hypocrites and time-servers who, — 
after bombarding their Sovereign Liege with petitions, 
and remonstrances, and votes of censure upon the 
ministers of his choice, — now plumed themselves on 
their so-called " loyalty " because they had not risen 
against him in arms when he declined to alter his 
policy at their dictation. One Hessian officer wrote 
home to a State Councillor at Cassel that the American 
Revolution was a Scotch, Irish, Presbyterian rebellion, 
the authors and instigators of which were the famous 
Quakers. Another described Philadelphia as a common 


sink of religions and nations, a mess and jumble of 
every sect and belief, which did not yield to Sodom and 
Gomorrah in respect of all the vices. Tories and 
Whigs, — Methodists, Congregationalists, and Episco- 
palians, — the King of England owed them nothing; 
and the King's gallant allies could not be better em- 
ployed than in despoiHng them of everything that they 
called their own. 

That was the creed of the foreign auxiliaries, and 
they were not slow to convert theory into practice. 
Robert Morton soon had to tell how he met a large 
gang of Germans on their way to empty his barn, and 
strip his garden. He applied for a guard to protect 
him, and on that occasion he saved his property ; but 
next day another party arrived with horses, carts, and 
sacks, and carried away his hay, his cabbages, and his 
potatoes. He was no worse off than his neighbours, 
every one of whom was robbed of the vegetables and 
the fruit on which he depended for maintaining his 
family through the winter. It was a catching example ; 
and many British privates vied with the Hessians in 
the pursuit of plunder and mischief. When the cold 
weather set in, the soldiers, sometimes without orders, 
and seldom under very strict supervision, began to pull 
down wooden houses for fuel. A poor clergyman, 
himself a German, complained that the fence of a new 
graveyard, which had cost his congregation nearly 
eighty pounds, had been taken down and burned.^ 
Then ensued the rifling of larders and cellars, the 
ransacking of wardrobes, and the demolition of libraries 
and furniture, the choicest in all America, which had 
been the pride and delight of wealthy and cultured 
Loyalist gentlemen. That was something, (so Mr. 
Morton declared,) which General Washington's army 
could not be accused of. There is not, (he wrote,) one 
instance to be produced where the rebels had wantonly 

1 Extracts from the Journals of the Reverend Doctor Henry Muhlen- 
berg, Minister and Praeses of the German Lutheran Ministry in the State 
of Pennsylvania. 


destroyed or burned their friends' property. The state 
to which a large number of neat, and even elegant, 
houses were reduced by their military inmates, and 
especially by the cavalry, was shocking to a cleanly, 
precise, and home-loving people.^ After the evacua- 
tion of Philadelphia County by the royal army, an 
assessment of the damage sustained by the inhabitants 
was made in all the wards and townships. The Loyal- 
ists, who had been the wealthiest, and who therefore 
suffered the most, were no longer present to put in 
their claims ; but, even so, the amount of loss inflicted 
upon private individuals was estimated at a hundred 
and eighty thousand pounds of English money. 

The Philadelphians, among their other troubles, had 
no means of escape from that compulsory inactivity 
which is the purgatory of an energetic race. Foreign 
commerce, their main source of livelihood, was dead. 
The influx of sutlers, who had come up the river with 
the fleet, had ruined the shops. Professional avoca- 
tions were at a stand-still ; and the services of towns- 
men were not asked, or accepted, for the government 
and administration of their own municipality. Two or 
three of the less reputable Tories, in an evil hour for 
themselves, consented to act as informers against their 
Whig neighbours, or as guides to parties of marauders 
in their excursions round the farms and villages outside 
the city. An Episcopal clergyman, — who had a flow- 
ing pen, and defective insight into character, — occupied 
himself over the composition of a long-winded epistle 
in which he exhorted Washington to get the Declara- 
tion of Independence rescinded by Congress, and after- 

^ "The Congress meets in the College Hall, as the State House was 
left by the enemy in a most filthy and sordid situation, as were many of 
the public and private buildings in the City. Some of the genteel houses 
were used for stables, and holes cut in the parlour-floors," for the pur- 
pose of shovelling the dirt into the cellars. "The country northward 
for several miles is one common waste, — the houses burned; the fruit- 
trees cut down ; fences carried away ; gardens and orchards destroyed ; 
Mr. Dickinson's and Morris's fine seats all demolished." Letter from 
Josiah Bartlett, delegate to Congress from New Hampshire : Philadelphia, 
July 13, 1778. 


wards to negotiate with the Crown at the head of his 
army.^ But the Loyalists, for the most part, left poli- 
tics alone, and endured their dreary and aimless exist- 
ence in a spirit of dignified resignation. 

There was no satisfaction to be drawn from the 
scenes around them. The Quakers, and not the 
Quakers only, were saddened and shocked by all those 
unhappy consequences which are inseparable from the 
presence among a civil community of a numerous and 
idle army. Regular employment grew slack. There 
was much gambling and drunkenness, and the streets 
were filled with loungers. ** Sober thrift and quiet 
rectitude " had ceased to be the special qualities of a 
Pennsylvanian artisan ; and young people of both sexes, 
and all ranks, had bitter, and sometimes lifelong, cause 
to regret that long carnival of frivolity and temptation. ^ 
The officers and soldiers, as was only too natural, did 
not make it their business to inquire whether their 
mode of life in Philadelphia conduced to the morality 
of the town. *' We are well supplied," (so a Hessian 
captain wrote,) "with all that is necessary and super- 
fluous. Assemblies, Concerts, Comedies, Clubs, and 
the like, make us forget that there is any war, save 
that it is a capital joke." But the war was no laugh- 
ing matter for the helpless Loyalists. One of them, 
who had been rich when hostiUties commenced, was so 
impoverished that in July 1778 his whole income did 
not suffice to pay his taxes. Others, whose dwellings 
had been wrecked and pillaged, complained that, when 
the royal authorities took measures to check plunder 

1 Washington had no feeling hotter than contempt for the suggestion 
that he should play the part of General Monk ; but Washington's 
countrymen did not so easily forgive the insult. The writer of the letter, 
after a protracted exile in England, returned to spend his last months in 
Philadelphia, where he now rests in peace beneath a laudatory epitaph : 

"(Jn January the Third, 1798, the Reverend Jacob Duche passed from 
his temporal to his angelic life." 

•^ The Meeting fur Sufferings of First Month, Eighth, 1778, issued an 
impressive warning against "the spirit of dissipation, levity, and pro- 
faneness which sorrowfully has spread, and is spreading, principally 
promoted by the military among us in and near the City." 

VOL. IV. 2A 


and outrage, "it was in favour of their open, pro- 
fessed, and determined enemies." The strength of their 
political faith was not proof against their sense of 
private wrong, and they began to wonder how they 
could ever have been so simple and unsuspicious as to 
welcome the advent of King George's soldiers. Their 
partisanship was abated, and even in some cases ex- 
tinct ; but none the less they were all marked men, — 
scouted and execrated by the mass of their compatriots 
as having fraternised with the invader, and been 
recreant to the American cause. Seldom, in all the 
tragic history of revolutions, did a company of worthier 
and more blameless people find themselves in a more 
pitiable and hopeless strait.^ 

^ Diary of Robert Morton. Diary of James Allen. The Journal of 
Captain Montr esor. Extracts from the Letter- Book of Captain Johann 
Heinrichs, of the Hessian J'dger Corps. Philadelphia, the Place and 
the People: Chapters 13 and 14. A History of Quaker Government in 
Pennsylvania^ by Isaac Sharpless, President of Haverford College : 
Volume II. 



On the second of December, 1777, the fateful tidings 
from Saratoga arrived in London ; and, very soon after 
the commencement of the new year. Cabinet Ministers 
were driven to acknowledge that an open breach with 
France was a matter of a few v^eeks, and possibly of a 
few hours. It was the season for strong measures, 
and strange proposals. Lord Barrington, on his 
responsibility as Secretary of War, informed George 
the Third that he had not a single general in whom 
the nation placed any confidence, and urged that a 
command should be offered to Prince Ferdinand of 
Brunswick. It was extremely unlikely that the victor 
of Minden would consent to take orders from a certain 
Secretary of State whom he had formerly known in 
Germany as Lord George Sackville ; and His Majesty, 
who had a healthy sense of humour, made sport of the 
artless suggestion. He turned again in his need to Lord 
Amherst, who a second time declined to draw his sword 
against the revolted colonists ; but the old warrior gave 
his Sovereign the benefit of his advice, and warned him 
that it would be impossible to " carry on with any 
effect an offensive land war" across the Atlantic, unless 
Sir William Howe, or the general who succeeded him, 
was reinforced by forty thousand men. Ten thousand 
regular infantry, as the King well knew, were the very 
utmost that could be placed in line on English soil to 
repel a French invasion. All hope of subduing the 
rebellion by force was for the time abandoned ; and 
Lord North was empowered to try his hand at recover- 
ing America by political and diplomatic measures.^ 

1 The Political Life of William Wildman, Viscount Barrington, com- 
piled from Original Papers by his brother, Skute, Bishop of Durham ; 
London, 1814. George the Third to Lord North ; January 9 and 13, and 
February 5, 1778. 

355 2A 2 


On the seventeenth of February, 1778, the Prime 
Minister imparted to a bewildered and dejected House 
of Commons his scheme for the reconciliation of the 
alienated colonies. He proposed to repeal the tea 
duty, and to pass an Act removing all doubts and 
apprehensions concerning taxation, by the parliament 
of Great Britain, in any of the provinces or plantations 
of North America. He announced himself as prepared 
to expunge from the statute-book the law which closed 
the port of Boston ; the law which destroyed the 
charter of Massachusetts ; and the laws which excluded 
New England mariners from the Newfoundland fisheries, 
and which prohibited trade and intercourse between 
Great Britain and America. A full pardon was offered 
to all who had been engaged in rebellion ; and the 
Home Government definitely, and finally, renounced the 
power of bringing political prisoners across the sea to 
be tried for treason in England. No bill, enacting an 
alteration in the Constitution of any colony, was hence- 
forward to be laid before Parliament, save and except at 
the request of the colony itself. The practice in 
American Courts of Justice, and the tenure of office by 
the Judges, were to be regulated in accordance with 
colonial opinion ; and the royal Governors, and civil 
and judicial magistrates, were to be elected by the 
local population, upon an understanding that all such 
appointments were subject to the approval of the King. 
The credit of the British Treasury might be employed 
to facilitate the withdrawal of the large quantity of 
paper currency issued by Congress for the purpose of 
defraying the expenses of the war against the British 
Crown. Any expression of a desire, on the part of the 
colonists, to have a reasonable number of representatives 
in the parliament at Westminster would be deliberately, 
and very amicably, considered. A Royal Commission 
was to visit America in order to arrange the details of 
pacification on the spot ; and those Commissioners would 
be specifically charged to address the Commander-in- 
Chief of the American forces, and all other members of 


the American Government, ** by any style or title " 
which the personages in question thought fit to assume. 
Small or great, ceremonial or essential, every point in 
dispute between the British Cabinet, and the Con- 
tinental Congress, was surrendered without ambiguity 
and without reserve. 

" A dull and melancholy silence for some time 
succeeded to this speech. It had been heard with 
profound attention, but without a single mark of appro- 
bation to any part, from any description of men, or any 
particular man, in the House." ^ The blow was crushing 
to the self-respect of those very numerous gentlemen 
who had been returned for ministerial boroughs under 
a pledge that they agreed, in every detail, with the 
American policy of the Government.^ Honourable 
members sat wondering what had become of the vital 
British interests, and the immutable constitutional 
principles, for which the nation had so long been 
fighting. Almost without drawing breath, the Prime 
Minister had abandoned the whole of a policy the 
obstinate pursuit of which had involved the Empire in 
six years of riot and civil strife, three sanguinary and 
ruinous campaigns, a duel to the death against France, 
and the near prospect of a succession of wars with 
an unknown number of other European States. It is 
a marvellous thought that the authors of that policy 
should have continued to pose as statesmen. But it is 
more remarkable still that there are writers in our own 
generation who exalt George the Third, and Lord North, 

1 "History of Europe" in the Annual Register for 1778 ; Chapter 7. 
Lord North's speech, as given in an abbreviated and confused parlia- 
mentary report, indicates the general character of his proposals. The 
complete plan is expounded, with minute and curious precision, in The 
Instructions by George the Third to his Commissioners to treat with the 
American Colonies. 

'^ The Earl of Sandwich set down, in black and white, the terms which 
he demanded for one of the seats at Huntingdon. " I must have 2000/. 
to be lent me for five years on my bond ; and to pay the expenses of the 
election, which in all probability would not amount to 300/. The con- 
ditions offered to Captain Phipps are the thinking, and acting, as I do on 
all American points." The Manuscripts of the Marquess of Abergavenny. 


as wise and patriotic rulers ; and who condemn Fox, 
and Burke, and Lord Chatham, and all the other op- 
ponents of an insane and fatal course of public action, as 
poor-spirited and disloyal citizens, the friends of every 
country except their own. 

The principal Commissioner was Frederick, Earl 
of Carlisle, a contemporary and schoolfellow of Charles 
Fox, and the sworn companion of his early scrapes and 
follies. Lord Carlisle had already begun to mend his 
ways ; and he continued on the path of improvement 
until, before the close of a long life, he was respect- 
ability, — and, in the eyes of his youthful kinsman Lord 
Byron, even pomposity, — personified. In one important 
regard he was well qualified for the high function with 
which he had now been intrusted ; inasmuch as he was 
a man of lofty and unblemished honour.^ Nevertheless 
London society, which had so recently been discussing 
the amount of his losses at cards, and the number and 
splendour of his dress-suits, was not as yet prepared to 
take him for a serious statesman. It is true that he 
had of late become a place-holder and a Privy Coun- 
cillor ; but the lives led by much older, and more exalted, 
members of Lord North's government were not such as 
to impress the world with a belief that accession to 
ministerial office must necessarily be accounted a sign 
of reformation, and a mark of grace. Carlisle seemed 
too slight and juvenile for a plenipotentiary ; and the 
general opinion concerning him was summed up in the 
verdict that he was a very fit Commissioner for making 
a treaty which would never be made.^ Our own 
generation, however, has no reason to regret that he 
was sent to America. Lord Carlisle was the frequent 
and intimate correspondent of George Selwyn, and 
much the better worth reading of the two. He strained 

^ " Lord Northington brought me home two nights in his coach, and 
in one "of them the conversation turned upon you. He said there was 
nobody had a better idea of what a gentleman should be than Carlisle ; 
that you was so throughout." George Selwyn to Lord Carlisle ; Dec. 9, 


2 Walpole to Mason ; March 4, 1778. 


at wit less visibly than his older friend ; he wrote a 
clear downright style, free from the mixed jargon of 
French, Italian, Mayfair English, and hackneyed Latin 
phrases, which ordinarily disfigured Selwyn's letters ; 
and he had a far more observant and kindly interest in 
the large class of human beings who did not belong 
to White's or Brooks's. The private papers of Lord 
Carlisle, preserved among the archives at Castle Howard, 
afford a life-like and very amusing picture of Trans- 
atlantic scenes and manners from the point of view of 
a travelled and well-educated Englishman. So much, 
at any rate, the young nobleman did for the advantage 
of posterity ; while it is absolutely certain that, as far 
as the public object of his mission to America was con- 
cerned, the most experienced diplomatist in Christendom 
could have achieved nothing but failure. 

All hope of a successful issue had vanished before 
ever Lord Carlisle, and his brother Commissioners, set 
foot upon Pennsylvanian soil. Acts of Parliament, (said 
Horace Walpole,) had made a rebellion ; but Acts of 
Parliament could not repeal one. The concessions 
offered by the mother-country had one fatal defect, that 
they came too late. The Treaty between the United 
States, and France, had now been signed ; and, instead 
of a peace with her own colonies, England henceforward 
" must expect war with the High Allies." ^ That was 
how Walpole put the case ; and the cleverest of all 
Lord North's parliamentary supporters, Edward Gibbon, 
was forced to admit that " the two great countries in 
Europe were fairly running a race for the favour of 
America ; " and that England was not the winner.^ 

When the news of the Paris Treaty arrived in 
Pennsylvania, the leaders of Congress thought it right 
to give Louis the Sixteenth an emphatic and public 
assurance that they would see him through the quarrel 
on which, for their sake, he had now embarked. They 

1 Walpole to Sir Horace Mann ; Feb. 18, 1778. 

2 Gibbon to ILjlroyd ; Feb. 23, 1778. 


called upon all officers in their employment to subscribe 
a form of oath by which they abjured allegiance to the 
King of Great Britain, and promised to maintain and 
defend the United States against George the Third, and 
his heirs and successors, according to the best of their 
skill and understanding, in the offices which they 
respectively held at the time of swearing. That last 
phrase was awkwardly constructed ; and the officers of 
one Virginian brigade, though they were Whigs and 
rebels to a man, hesitated to sign because the words 
might be taken as implying an obligation not to 
retire from the army until the war was ended. When 
the generals at Valley Forge came together for the 
purpose of affixing their names to the paper, Charles 
Lee excited the boisterous hilarity of his comrades by 
explaining that, while he was prepared to refuse obedi- 
ence to George the Third, he entertained a conscientious 
objection against renouncing the Prince of Wales. But 
these, and all other, scruples were speedily laid at rest ; 
and every civil and military servant of the United 
States was henceforward bound by a solemn pledge of 
loyalty to the Republic, and hostility to the Crown. 

It was an unhappy circumstance that the brothers 
Howe, who themselves were members of the Royal 
Commission for treating with the colonies, — and 
who were respected, and not disliked, by the great 
majority of Americans, — should be absent from New 
York when intelligence of what had taken place in 
the British parliament reached that city. The duty of 
opening communications with the Revolutionary author- 
ities devolved upon Governor Tryon, who was bitterly 
hated, and universally distrusted and disbelieved. 
Tryon hastened to print off a large edition of Lord 
North's conciliatory bills, and took measures for having 
them read throughout the Confederacy. He enclosed 
copies to General Washington, with a polite request that 
he would aid in the work of distribution, " so that the 
people at large might be acquainted with the favourable 
disposition of Great Britain towards the American colo- 


nies." Washington, after convincing himself, with some 
difficulty, that the Bills were genuine,^ sent them to 
the President of Congress ; and Congress unanimously 
resolved not to confer or treat with any Commissioners 
from Great Britain until the British fleet and army were 
withdrawn from the United States, and their indepen- 
dence recognised in positive and express terms by the 
British Ministers. Tryon received many replies to his 
circular, the most noteworthy of which came from 
Governor Trumbull. " If peace," the old man said, 
" be really the object, let your proposals be addressed 
properly to the proper power, and your negotiations 
honorably conducted. We shall then have some 
prospect of, (what is the most ardent wish of every 
honest American,) a lasting and honorable peace. The 
British nation may then, perhaps, find us as affectionate 
and valuable friends as we now are determined and 
fatal enemies, and derive from that friendship more 
solid and real advantage than the most sanguine can 
expect from conquest."^ Jonathan Trumbull, when 
he wrote that sentence, had a true and prophetic 
glimpse into an exceedingly distant future. 

Lord Carlisle and his colleagues had looked forward 

1 Washington had ground for suspicion, because the semi-ofificial Tory 
press of New York made a practice of foisting upon its readers a large 
quantity of fictitious political literature. In February, 1778, Rivington's 
Royal Gazette printed, as a valuable discovery, some letters from the 
Commander-in-Chief of the American army to his wife and kinsfolk, 
which were stated to have been found in the possession of a mulatto 
servant who had been captured at Fort Lee. The letters were manu- 
factured with a certain infernal skill, and contained passages artfully 
designed to show that Washington's public conduct was dictated solely by 
personal ambition, while at heart he disliked the Revolution and dis- 
approved of the war. 

In the following March two sham Resolutions of Congress were pub- 
lished in the New York Gazette, " with all the formalities of place and 
date, and the signatures of the President and Secretary, the object of 
which was to foment discontent in the American army, and prevent 
enlistments." Washington, more incensed than when his own reputation 
had been the subject of calumnious attack, denounced this proceeding as 
a forgery infamous to the last degree. 

2 Collections of the Massachtisetts Historical Society ; Seventh Series, 
Vol. II. 


to opening negotiations with Congress under very 
different circumstances from those which actually 
awaited them in Philadelphia. They had pictured 
themselves as offering terms of peace to a defeated 
adversary from the walls of his conquered capital. 
They had felt confident that Sir William Howe, and his 
victorious army, would keep General Washington at 
a very respectful distance from the royal outposts by 
the mere terror of their name ; and they expected, with 
good reason, to find the Delaware as much an English 
water as the Humber or the Mersey. Even that hope 
was sadly disappointed. Lord Carlisle told his wife 
that he had enjoyed his voyage on the magnificent 
river ; admiring ** a beautiful country, covered with 
wood, and to all appearance extremely rich ; " and 
passing in review, with close attention and constant 
amusement, more than three hundred sail of different 
shipping which he encountered on his journey up- 
stream. But none the less he could not avoid noticing 
the chain of royal war vessels stationed a few miles 
from each other, all along the channel, in order to 
protect the navigation from hostile raiders ; *' for I am 
grieved," he said, '' to tell you that both sides of the 
river are in possession of the enemy, who are well 
armed, and absolutely prevent any intercourse whatever 
with the land." ^ The British Commissioners arrived 
at Philadelphia on Saturday the sixth of June ; and 
on the following Tuesday Lord Carlisle learned some- 
thing about the state of affairs on shore. '* I have 
this morning," he wrote, " been taking a ride into 
the country about ten miles ; — grieved I am to say, 
eight miles beyond our possessions. Our lines extend 
only two ; and the Provincial army is posted very 
strongly about six-and-twenty miles distant. This is 
market-day ; and to protect the people bringing in 
provisions, which otherwise they would not dare to 
do, large detachments, to the amount of above two 

1 Lord Carlisle to Lady Carlisle: April 24 to June 17; — "a long 
letter in the form of a diary." Castle Howard Manuscripts. 


thousand men, are sent forward into the country. We 
profited by this safe-guard ; and I attended the general, 
Sir Henry Clinton, as far as German Town, — a place as 
remarkable, and as much an object of curiosity for 
those who have any respect for the present times, as 
Edge Hill or Naseby Field is to those whose veneration 
is excited only by their great-grandfathers."^ The 
historical parallel was in one respect incomplete ; for 
Fairfax or Cromwell, six months after the battle, would 
most certainly have been free to revisit Naseby with- 
out an escort of two thousand pikemen and musketeers. 
There was a keen sense of dissatisfaction and 
humiliation among the officers of Clinton's army. They 
had been watching eagerly for the advent of summer, and 
for the arrival from England of a very strong reinforce- 
ment, on the exact figure of which they were all of them 
agreed. But the month of May, instead of bringing 
with it twenty thousand more British and German 
infantry, with the thrice welcome signal for an advance 
in force against Washington's intrenchments, brought 
nothing more inspiriting than the report of Lord North's 
very doleful oration in the House of Commons, and 
some odd copies of his conciliation bills. Lord Carlisle, 
however, who had never before in his life seen so many 
good soldiers together, was firmly persuaded that the 
troops already concentrated in Philadelphia, without the 
addition of another bayonet, were numerous enough, 
and brave enough, to bring America to reason. Accord- 
ing to his own statement he had looked forward to the 
satisfaction of warning Congress that, if they trifled 
with the British proposals for an accommodation, " so 
fine an army, so disciplined, so healthy, so everything, 
might possibly be of some inconvenience to them ; " but 
he now learned that for some wise purposes, with which 
he was not acquainted, "this fine army was to be of no 
inconvenience to them whatever.'"^ Sir Henry Clinton, 

1 The Earl of Carlisle to George Selwyn ; Philadelphia, Wednesday, 
June 10, 1778. 

2 Lord Carlisle to Lady Carlisle; June 14, Philadelphia. 


to his surprise and stupefaction, informed him that the 
Government at home had given positive orders to 
abandon Philadelphia, and retreat upon New York ; — 
orders which the Secretary of State had industriously 
and designedly kept secret from Lord Carhsle, although 
they had been issued many weeks before his departure 
from England.^ That was in Lord George Germaine's 
habitual manner ; and the Prime Minister himself was 
greatly to blame for having sanctioned so wide a 
deviation from the rules of fair play, and honourable 
conduct, between man and man.^ 

Lord CarHsle's pride was cruelly wounded. He sa^f 
himself in the character of an envoy who had been 
befooled by his employers ; and the military superiority, 
which is the vantage-ground of the diplomatist, had 
been deliberately, and in his view quite unnecessarily, 
thrown away at the precise moment when negotia- 
tions were about to commence.^ He assured his wife, 
in language becoming a great English nobleman who 
likewise was a public servant, that he should keep his 
temper to the last, and exert himself to restrain the 
violence of some with whom he was obliged to act* 
For the Commissioners were very angry ; and Governor 
Johnstone, in particular, who had always been a fight- 
ing man, — and who, some years previously, did his 
utmost to shoot Lord George Germaine in a duel in 

1 The Earl of Carlisle to the Reverend Mr. Ekins : Private. 

2 Lord Carlisle, when attending in Downing Street to receive his 
instructions, had an opportunity of informing himself how public business 
was done by the leading members of that very remarkable Caliinet. 
" Little passed," he wrote, " of any real importance ; and I confess I came 
away by no means edified by the conversation, and not a little shocked at 
the slovenly manner with which an affair, so serious in its nature, had 
been dismissed." 

3 " That which we have always looked upon as the great instrument 
which was to secure us success, the active and offensive course of Military 
operations^ was no longer there to support our proceedings. A defensive 
war carries with it neither threats nor terrors. . . . You will agree with 
me that our offers of peace wore too much the appearance of supplica- 
tions for mercy from a vanquished, and exhausted, State." Lord Carlisle 
to the Reverend Air. Ekins: Private. 

* Lord Carlisle to Lady Carlisle ; June 21, 1778. 


Hyde Park, — was exceedingly outspoken whe^i remark- 
ing on the treatment to which he and his brethren had 
been subjected. He agreed, (so he declared,) with an 
observation of the Marquis of Montrose that ''there is 
nothing more contemptible than a retreating army, or 
a supplicating Prince."^ King George's Commissioners 
soon tasted the full bitterness of the great Cavalier's 
maxim. They requested General Washington to grant 
them a passport for their Secretary, who was no less 
a personage than Doctor Adam Ferguson, Professor of 
Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy in Edinburgh Uni- 
versity. Washington's reply was a rather frigid sample 
of that courtesy which Americans never entirely with- 
hold from an eminent man of letters.^ While expressing 
his recognition of Doctor Ferguson's talents and popu- 
larity, he declined to admit him through the lines without 
a special order from the President of Congress ; and the 
Commissioners, accordingly, had no choice but to send 
in their packet of papers under an ordinary flag of 
truce. The proposals made by the British Government 
met with an unfavourable reception, and a tardy re- 
sponse ; for the answer of Congress, which in its effect 
was tantamount to a refusal, did not reach Lord Carlisle's 
hands until he had placed many leagues of river, and 
open sea, between himself and the city of Philadelphia. 

For three years to come, until hostilities had died 
out, and the peace was fast approaching, Sir Henry Clin- 
ton was left in command of the royal forces in America. 
During the whole of that period the King insisted that 
some kind of war should be kept going; but he and 
his Ministers did not encourage, or even permit, any 

^ Governor George Johnstone to Lord Carlisle. 

2 " If an occasion shall present itself of an interview with Doctor 
Ferguson, you may rely, Sir, I shall esteem myself happy in showing him 
the civilities flue to his literary and social character." George Washing- 
ton to William Eden, Commissioner from the Court of Great Britain to 
America; Headquarters, 12 June, 1778. Washington, on the same day, 
wrote in much the same terms to Governor Johnstone. 


serious attempt to recover by arms either New England, 
the birthplace and focus of the rebellion, or those rich 
and populous Central provinces where Congress was 
domiciled, and where Washington's army lay. Clinton 
was never in sufficient strength, and never his own 
master. He was supplied at uncertain intervals with 
scanty numbers of half-trained recruits, and distracted 
by Lord George Germaine's foolish and contradictory 
orders. He laboured under a still more embarrassing 
disadvantage, which at last resulted in a fatal catas- 
trophe to the British arms ; for he found himself un- 
able to depend with any confidence, — in that region of 
islands, and estuaries, and navigable rivers, — upon tho 
assistance of a navy mismanaged and misdirected by the 
Earl of Sandwich. A commander hampered by such 
difficulties was foredoomed to contemporary unpopu- 
larity, and to historical insignificance. Sir Henry Clin- 
ton's name is not now remembered by the great body of 
his fellow-countrymen ; and in his own lifetime he was 
accounted the most notorious of those 

" Generals who will not conquer when they may, 
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay." ^ 

Clinton was never the man to attempt impossibilities, 
or to accomplish miracles ; but several times in the 
course of his career he was charged with the conduct 
of a specific military operation, and proved himself an 
unusually capable officer. His qualifications as a leader 
were seldom more severely tested than when the 
Cabinet in London imposed upon him the tough, and 

^ Cowper's Table Talk \ London, 1782. A letter preserved among 
the manuscripts of the Earl of Verulam at Gorhambury gives a notion of 
the talk which went on in army circles, almost within Sir Henry Clinton's 
hearing. " Since our arrival nothing has happened sufficiently important 
to deserve your attention ; and, {entre nous,) we expect nothing under our 
present commander. Nothing, surely, can be more shameful than our 
perfect inactivity during the whole summer and autumn. . . . For God's 
sake let us have a man of resolution or abilities!" J. Marvin Nooth to 
Viscountess Grimston ; New York, November 23, 1779. 


ungrateful, task of extricating King George's troops 
from Philadelphia, and replacing them on Manhattan 

It would have seemed an easy and simple matter 
to put them all on ship-board, with their stores and 
cannon, and carry them back to New York by water. 
But, in Sir Henry Clinton's judgment, the idea of com- 
mitting the only English army in America to the 
hazards, and the possible delays, of an ocean voyage 
was forbidden by strategical considerations of the 
utmost gravity. If the winds were unfavourable, the 
great convoy of British transports might very well 
spend a month on their way between port and port, 
and would then arrive by driblets ; while Washington, 
with sixteen or eighteen thousand men, could reach 
New York in a fortnight ; and the Comte d'Estaing and 
his battle-ships, if he had used reasonable expedition, 
might be there already. The only method by which 
Clinton could make sure of averting that crushing 
disaster, which the loss of New York would inflict 
upon the royal cause, was to keep his own army con- 
stantly interposed between General Washington and 
the threatened city ; and he accordingly determined to 
effect his retreat by land. Moreover, the accommoda- 
tion on the fleet was not unlimited ; and there was a 
great deal to be taken home which had never been 
brought out. The army now possessed five thousand 
horses, almost all of which had been collected, by re- 
quisition or purchase, during Sir William Howe's occu- 
pation of Pennsylvania. Something had been said 
about killing the greater part of them, as the French 
long afterwards killed their beasts of burden when 
Massena retired from Portugal in the spring of 181 1; 
but that was not an English expedient. There was 
another claim, which could not be ignored, upon the 
humanity of our countrymen. Room had to be found 
in the transports for a whole population of Loyalists ; 
"unfortunate beings," (said Lord Carlisle,) "who at 
least deserved from us this mark of our attention and 


compassion in preventing them from falling into the 
hands of a relentless enemy." 

As early as the middle of May, orders had been 
issued that the heavy baggage of the army should be in 
readiness for embarkation at the shortest notice ; and 
the large guns and mortars had been withdrawn from 
the redoubts, and carefully packed on board the 
Ordnance transports.^ These necessary precautions 
could not be kept secret ; and Philadelphia was soon 
in a ferment of emotion. It had become known 
that, after the departure of the British army, an 
Oath of Allegiance to the United States would be 
exacted from all private citizens under pains and 
penalties of extreme rigour. Sir William Howe had 
somewhat lightly advised a deputation of Loyalists to 
make their peace with the adversary, and throw them- 
selves on the tender mercies of Congress ; but these 
poor people only too well knew what that resource was 
worth. They were in an agony of distress and alarm ; 
and Sir Henry CUnton, as the person responsible for 
the honour of England, assured them that no one who 
desired to sail should be left behind. The Quakers 
alone gave no sign of perturbation, and calmly pursued 
their ordinary avocations amidst the general panic and 
flurry. It seemed, (said an American writer,) as if, in 
their aversion to all military operations, they regarded 
even running away, that very material part of battle, 
as opposed to the principles of their Society.^ It was 
not that they contemplated submission to Congress ; 
for, — even if, under any circumstances whatever, they 
had been free to swear, — a pledge of subordination to 
a Revolutionary authority was the very last oath which 
they would think it right to take. They remained 
in Philadelphia, silent and passive under sharp perse- 
cution, and steadfastly refusing, by any word or action 
of their own, to abet war, or to countenance rebellion. 
Their courage and consistency vanquished the intoler- 

1 Journal of Captain Montresor ; May 14, 1778. 

2 Philadelphia^ the Place and the People % Chapter 12. 


ance of their political opponents ; and, when hostilities 
at length ceased, and the Independence of America was 
acknowledged by the Court of Great Britain, they settled 
themselves down in wilHng obedience to the Government 
of the United States, which from that time forward they 
regarded as a lawful and existent power, ordained of God. 
That was the course taken by the Quakers ; but all 
other Pennsylvanian Tories who were too honest to belie 
their convictions, or who had committed themselves 
against the Revolution too deeply to be forgiven, directed 
their energies to the dreary work of preparing for exile. 
Over the space of a fortnight, from the twenty-eighth of 
May onwards, they were dismantling their beautiful 
houses, and carting their goods to the water-side, and 
installing their families between decks to the number of 
three thousand souls. As fast as the transports were 
loaded, they dropped down stream to their appointed 
anchorage, until the river was alive with vessels of every 
size and description, from the wharves along the city- 
front, to the mouth of the Brandywine. " You have the 
best heart in the world," (so Lord Carlisle wrote to a 
lady of rank in England ;) '* and it would tear it to pieces 
to be witness to what I now see from my cabin window, 
— all our ships, to the amount of about three hundred, 
transporting the miserable inhabitants of Philadelphia 
to some place of temporary protection from those they 
have offended by favouring our cause in this dispute." 
Such was indeed the case. The friends of the Crown 
were harshly, and often very cruelly, treated by the par- 
tisans of the Revolution. And yet it is impossible to 
deny that, if they had not been forced to take sides in a 
quarrel spontaneously and gratuitously sprung upon 
the colonies by the British ministry, the Philadelphian 
Tories, and their Whig neighbours, would at that very 
moment have all been living peaceably, and comfort- 
ably, as Loyahsts together.^ 

1 Lord Carlisle to the Dutchess of , June 18, 1778 ; on board the 

Trident. Philadelphia; the Place and the People; Chapters 13 and 14. 
President Sharpless's History ; Chapter 8, on " (Quaker Suffering." 



The time was short; the demand for labour urgent 
and universal ; and the means of carriage, both by road 
and sea, inadequate to so exceptional an emergency. 
Vast quantities of stores, which were exactly adapted 
to satisfy the most crying needs of the American troops 
and the American people, still remained undestroyed. 
" For salt," (^rote one of Lord Dartmouth's informers,) 
" they are in the utmost distress ; and they will feel 
their want of it in the hot weather, when fresh meat 
will not keep three or four hours." A hundred and 
thirty thousand bushels of that precious commodity were 
abandoned as spoil for the victors at the evacuation of 
Philadelphia. Some Whig townsmen, — who had a re 
serve store of hard money, and an eye for a falling market, 
— employed those golden hours in buying up the stocks 
of Tory merchants mtent on flight, for re-sale to General 
Washington's Commissariat officers ; and goods to the 
value of a hundred and forty thousand pounds, of prime 
importance to the soldier, were by this operation secured 
for the use of the Continental Army. 

On the eighteenth of June Lord Howe weighed anchor, 
and proceeded down the river with his war-ships, and 
chartered merchantmen, in his train. He was accom- 
panied by Lord Carlisle, who was glad to be quit of his 
city lodging,^ and quite content to await the inevitable 
failure of his diplomatic efforts at New York instead of 
at Philadelphia. The fleet had on board Clinton's sick 
and wounded, as well as those Bayreuth and Anspach 
conscripts who had so recently excited the pity of Eu- 
rope by the miserable story of their mutiny in Franconia. 
A great number had already deserted ; and none of them 
could be trusted to resist the facilities for evasion which 
were sure to occur during a prolonged retreat in front of 

1 ** I have one of the best houses for my quarters. The gentleman to 
whom it belongs has still an apartment in it. He is perfectly civil; 
though I feel distressed at coming into his house without asking his leave, 
and placing a couple of sentries at hie door." Lord Carlisle to Lady 
Carlisle ; Philadelphia, June 8. 


a pursuing enemy .^ Before dawn on that same eighteenth 
of June, the royal troops in Philadelphia left their quar- 
ters, and passed through the streets, and across the 
ferries, in so quiet and orderly a fashion that the 
citizens, awaking at their usual hour, were astonished to 
find the army gone. Towards ten in the morning a party 
of Major Lee's dragoons galloped down to the quay, 
only just in time to see the EngHsh rear-guard off, as it 
embarked for the Jersey shore. Sir Henry CHnton 
took with him across the river forty-six field-pieces, and 
about seventeen thousand men ; a most formidable 
body of soldiers, if only their faces had been turned in 
the right direction. ^ They were hardy, strong-limbed, 
and active fellows, — responsive to the leadership, and 
amenable to the control, of their high-spirited and vigi- 
lant regimental officers. Their moral and physical 
qualities were shrewdly tried during the first ten days 
of that memorable retreat. 

Towards the end of the previous century WilHam 
Penn, after a few years' experience of the colony that he 
had founded, ruefully confessed that, in those latitudes, 
"the weather often changeth without notice, and is 
constant almost in its inconstancy." During the month 
of June, 1778, New Jersey maintained the character of 
the region in which it was situated. When the British 
reached their second halting-place, the rain poured 
down for fourteen consecutive hours, ruining the high- 
ways, soaking the baggage, spoiling the ammunition 
and provisions, and drenching the soldiers to their skin. 
Then came a long spell of the most terrible heat which 
had afflicted the province within the range of human 
memory. Many died of sun-stroke ; the features of the 

^ The other Germans in Clinton's army preferred to believe that the 
two wretched battalions were conveyed by water, because they were 
totally incapable of executing a march on land. 

2 On the third of July, 1 778, Sir Henry Clinton had under his command, 
"fit for duty," 859 officers, 1,114 Serjeants, 572 trumpeters and drum- 
mers, and 13,907 rank and file; amounting in all to 16,452 men. In the 
course of the preceding fortnight, the army had been weakened by a 
severe action, a very trying series of marches, and many desertions. 

2B 2 


men were swollen past recognition by mosquito-bites ; 
and at the end of a day's march, short in distance 
though long in time, one Hessian out of every three 
had been left panting and prostrate on the roadside.^ 
The infantry, burdened like pack-horses, and clothed 
and accoutred as for a Birthday parade in a European 
capita^, were kept stationary hour after hour under the 
blazing sun ; for the train of carts was a dozen miles in 
length, and frequently travelled on a single causeway. ^ 
The Americans broke down all the bridges over which 
the column had to pass ; and Sir Henry Clinton was 
powerless to hinder the work of destruction. He was 
very short of cavalry, and the whole country-side wa: 
out and about with hostile intentions against him and 
his army. According to the account given to Lord 
Carlisle by his military friends, there was not a single 
Jerseyman, capable of bearing arms, who remained at 
home. They bestowed their families, and their live- 
stock, in a place of safety ; they cut the ropes of the 
wells ; and, leaving their crops for the spoiler, and 
their houses for the torch, they betook themselves, gun 
in hand, to the woods which bordered the English 
line of march.^ The inexorable animosity of the local 
population made a profound and durable impression 
upon the mind of the British general. In September 
1792, when the Duke of Brunswick was conducting his 
disastrous campaign against the French Republic, he 
was attended by Sir Henry Clinton, who in very old 
days had served him as aide-de-camp. Like causes 
produce like results ; and, after Clinton had ridden 
through Champagne for a while with the invading army, 

1 Lowell's Hessians ; Chapter 17. 

2 Letter from Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton to Lord George 
Germaine ; New York, July 5, 1778. 

3 Lord Carlisle to Lady Carlisle; July 21, 1778, New York. "The 
common people," (wrote Lord Carlisle,) " hate us in their hearts. . . . 
Formerly, when things went better for us, there was an appearance of 
friendship by their coming in for pardons ; but, no sooner was our situa- 
tion the least altered for the worst, but these friends were the first to fire 
on us ; and many were taken with their pardons in their pockets." 


he informed his old chief that the silence of the country, 
the disappearance of the inhabitants, and their speedy 
communication of intelligence among each other, made 
him think that he was on the soil of America during 
the late rebellion.^ 

The evacuation of Philadelphia was known at Valley 
Forge by eleven of the clock on the same morning ; and 
Washington forthwith emerged from his lines of Torres 
Vedras, and started on the track of his departing ad- 
versary. Before the afternoon was half over, six of 
his brigades were on the road to Coryell's Ferry. The 
Americans crossed the river on the twenty-second June ; 
and two days afterwards the generals were summoned 
to a Council of War. Their deliberations, (so Alexander 
Hamilton contemptuously declared,) would have done 
credit to the Most Honourable Society of Midwives, and 
to them onl)^ Charles Lee made a flaming speech about 
building a bridge of gold for a retreating enemy. He 
exhorted his colleagues to reflect that the French alliance 
was secured beyond fear of loss ; that a general action 
would inevitably result in an American defeat ; and that 
it would be ''criminal" folly to bring a valiant, and highly 
disciplined, army of British regulars to bay. Most of his 
audience deferred to the authority of an officer who 
stood next in rank to the Commandernn-Chief, and 
whose military reputation dated from the heroic, and 
already somewhat mythical, period of the Seven Years' 
War. The Marquis de Lafayette modestly, but man- 
fully, advocated the opposite view, and carried with him 
Anthony Wayne, always eager for a battle, and Nathanael 
Greene, whose opinion was worth that of all the others 
together. The majority of the council advised against an 
aggressive movement; but they were overruled by Wash- 
ington, who announced his intention of pushing forward 
a detachment with orders to follow up the British at 
close quarters, and use every endeavour to make them 
turn and fight. Charles Lee solemnly declined to take 

* Clinton's words are quoted, from the Annual Register y by Albert 
Sorel, in his History of Europe and the French Revolution, 


any part in a plan of action which, according to his own 
notion, was sure to fail ; and the post of danger and 
glory was allotted to Lafayette. On the morrow, how- 
ever, — irresolute even in the abnegation of responsi- 
bility, — Lee applied for permission to withdraw his 
refusal. He had learned in the meanwhile that the 
advance-guard, henceforward officially known as *' the 
flying army," was to be a full six thousand strong, and 
composed of choice troops ; and a rumour had reached 
his ears that Stirling, of whom he was desperately 
jealous, showed a disposition to put in his claim for the 
command. Washington referred the decision to Lafay- 
ette ; and Lee, with the eloquence of despair, made an 
artful, although not very dignified, appeal to the com- 
passion of the young Frenchman. " I place in your 
hands," he said, *' my honour and my fortune. You 
are too generous to wreck both the one and the other." 
Lafayette was not hard-hearted enough to reject the 
entreaties of a famous man, more than twice his own 
age; and, late at night on the twenty-seventh June, he 
wrote a letter definitely handing over the command to 
Lee. The chivalrous Marquis was now to learn, not 
by any means for the last time in the course of his 
career, that occasions occur in the management of 
public affairs when it is quite possible to be too much 
of a gentleman.^ 

Charles Lee had gained his object, to the ultimate 
ruin of his personal and military reputation. With no 
self-knowledge, and no firmness of character, and with- 
out even so much as a clear conception whether he 
wished America or England to win, he had pitted himself 
against a singularly cool and resolute antagonist. On 
the twenty-fourth of June Sir Henry Clinton arrived at 
Allenstown, the point from which he intended to strike 
northward through Brunswick to Perth Amboy, in 
order to take ship for Staten Island and New York 

1 Alexander Hamilton to Elias Boudinot ; Brunswick, July 5th, 1778. 
Memoire de ma main, du General Lafayette. 


city.^ He had consumed a full week over the first 
forty miles of his journey. Although his progress was 
inordinately slow, his route was admirably chosen ; for 
his interminable caravan of waggons had hitherto been 
protected on the west, which was his vulnerable 
quarter, by the whole breadth of the Delaware. He 
was met at Allenstown by the intelligence that Washing- 
ton was already across the river, threatening the flank 
of his elongated column of march with an army which 
he knew to be hardly less efficient, and believed to be 
very much larger, than his own. There were those 
who urged him to disencumber his movements by 
destroying the whole of his baggage on the spot ; but 
his military pride forbade that humiliating sacrifice, 
and he preferred to rely for safety on his own strategical 
skill, and on the mettle of his soldiers. The promptitude 
and vigour of his measures left nothing to be desired. 
Without hesitation he threw his left shoulder forward, 
and pushed straight east, across the heart of New 
Jersey, in the direction of Sandy Hook. The road was 
execrable, and the heat like the desert of Sahara ; but 
Clinton gave his people no respite until, on the twenty- 
seventh June, his entire force was concentrated round the 
group of buildings, known as Monmouth Court House, 
which stood mid-way between the Delaware and the 
sea. The number and audacity of the riflemen in linen 
frocks, who swarmed around the British bivouacs, 
indicated that Colonel Morgan was on the war-path, 
that Washington himself in all probability was close at 
hand, and that within the next twenty-four hours the 
American attack would be driven home. Sir Henry 
Clinton issued orders that, at day-break next morning, 
his wheeled vehicles should proceed on their way, 
escorted by half the army under the command of 
General von Knyphausen ; while Lord Cornwallis, with 
fourteen battahons and a handful of cavalry, would 

1 Clinton's march from the Delaware to Sandy Hook may be followed, 
step by step, in the large map at the end of this volume. 


keep the enemy in play until the train of baggage had 
escaped beyond the risk of capture.^ 

Sunday the twenty-eighth of June, 1778, was long 
remembered all over the United States as the most 
sultry day which had ever been endured since mankind 
learned to read the thermometer. Lord Carlisle still 
lay becalmed in the Delaware River, tired of looking at 
ships, which were the only sights in view ; tormented 
by " gnats as large as sparrows ; " unable to sleep during 
the stifling night; and unwilling to dine in company 
because "■ neither hand could be spared from wiping 
both neck and face every moment, and at the same 
time." What was misery and discomfort beneath the 
awning on a quarter-deck, amounted to nothing less 
than an ever-present menace of sudden death to soldiers 
marching in closely packed ranks, or running forward, 
with gun and knapsack, in the hurry and excitement of 
battle. The royal camp was astir at an early hour. 
Not long after midnight, von Knyphausen began to 
move ; and the innumerable carriages gradually wound 
themselves out of the meadows where they had been 
parked, and covered, in unbroken file, the whole of the 
eleven miles of highway which led eastward from 
Monmouth Court House to the village of Middletown. 
At eight o'clock Cornwallis took the road, and was 
already far advanced on his way when Charles Lee 
came in sight. The American centre was a serried 
mass of troops, while powerful columns hastened for- 
ward, on the right and left, with an evident intention of 
cutting into the procession of English waggons. Sir 
Henry Clinton at once discerned that the only possible 
chance of saving his convoy was to attack, and defeat, 
the hostile vanguard before their main army could 
arrive upon the field. He had sure information that 
Washington was within no great distance ; but he 
reckoned that, if he went to work in the right manner, 

1 An interesting and exact account of Sir Henry Clinton's march is 
contained in the record, compiled by Colonel Gerald Boyle, which the 
author has been granted the invaluable privilege of studying. 


there would be just time to get the business done. 
Rising to the height of an arduous situation, he desired 
CornwalUs to counter-march all his battalions, and 
deploy them as fast as they returned to the scene of 
action. No man alive could set a battle in array more 
artistically and impressively than Lord Cornwallis. 
The Foot Guards, the Light companies and Grenadier 
companies, eleven regiments of the line, and some 
squadrons of Dragoons, advanced across the open fields 
under cover of a well-sustained fire from their artillery. 
Charles Lee, as always, was deeply struck by the 
military appearance of the English infantry ; but he 
would gladly have chosen another point of view from 
which to enjoy the spectacle. The messages which he 
despatched to his brigade-commanders, in answer to 
their request for orders, were dispiriting, and so per- 
plexed as to ,. be almost unintelligible ; and, after 
some hesitation, he set in his own person an in- 
glorious example of the direction in which, under the 
circumstances, it behoved the troops to march. The 
Americans were soon in full retreat ; and, after some 
miles had been traversed, that retreat bore a very 
close resemblance to a rout. Lafayette in vain begged 
for leave to halt and fight. *' Sir," (replied Lee,) " you 
do not know British soldiers. We cannot stand against 
them." It was an odd and unsatisfactory way of ex- 
plaining matters to a very gallant officer who was a Major 
General in the American army, and a Musketeer of King 
Louis's Household.^ 

At high noon, a league to the rear of Monmouth 
Court House, Washington, as he rode towards the 
sound of the cannon, was encountered by a crowd of 
his very best troops falHng back in confusion from 
the front. The men, who were sulky and disgusted, 
muttered something about General Lee's orders ; and 

^ When Charles was a prisoner in New York, he told Captain 
Harris, " nearly crying," that he was mistaken in thinking that the New 
Englanders would tight. The young man, whose head had already been 
broken by a New England bullet, was not shaken in his opinion. 


none of the superior officers, whom the Commander-in- 
Chief successively questioned, could give any clear 
account of what had been going on. He galloped 
forward until his eye lighted upon Charles Lee himself, 
upon whom he at once descended " like an avenging 
deity." Then, for the first and last time on record, 
there blazed forth one single flash of the fire which 
always burned beneath that cold and placid exterior. 
He relentlessly insisted upon an answer to the very 
obvious inquiry why Lee had ever undertaken a service 
which he did not so much as attempt to perform ; and 
History, with bated breath, admits that he called the 
recreant general, to his face, *'a damned poltroon." 
The vigour of his language has been boisterously and 
triumphantly exaggerated by some of his more grace- 
less admirers ; but George Washington's countrymen, 
for the most part, received the story in awe-struck 
silence. The matter may safely be left between him- 
self and the Recording Angel. ^ 

Washington's presence restored the battle. He rallied 
two of the retiring battalions, which at his bidding 
faced about, and set an example of resistance. He 
gave General Wayne the welcome order to plant his 
division across the line of Clinton's pursuit. He rode 
back and forward through a bitter fusillade, recalling 
his troops to their duty in quiet and well-placed words, 
and keeping all his aides-de-camp on the move with 
messages to every general in his army. *' I never," 
said Alexander Hamilton, " saw him to such advantage. 
What part our family acted, let others say." The 
officers of Washington's staff, — dashing young South- 
erners, eager for distinction, and glad of a day off from 
the monotony of quill-driving, — galloped about into 
the hottest corners with some damage to themselves, 
and still more to their horses. There was no slackness 
in the opposite ranks. Clinton, (as the phrase then 
was,) " greatly exposed himself," issuing his commands 
in person amidst the flying bullets. Colonel Harcourt 

^ Tristram Shandy \ Volume VI., Chapter 8. 


who, all through the retreat from Philadelphia, had 
made each of his dragoons do the work of three, 
showed courage and conduct under a heavy fire of 
grape, and in broken ground almost impracticable for 
cavalry. The battalion of English Grenadier companies 
marched steadily up to a range of loop-holed farm 
buildings, and a well-lined orchard fence. Their colo- 
nel was killed, and the American marksmen would 
not allow them to get within push of bayonet ; but they 
maintained, at very short range, a fierce dispute with 
the defenders.^ The British Guards, led by officers 
who had played a part in the Meschianza, evinced con- 
spicuous gallantry ; and Anthony Wayne, in a very 
characteristic letter, plumed himself on having held his 
own, in what most certainly was not a mimic combat, 
against the Knights of the Burning Mountain and the 
Blended Rose. 

Meanwhile the whole of the large American army 
had arrived upon the field, and was extending itself, 
from left to right, along a range of wooded hillocks 
which Sir Henry Clinton perceived to be unassailable. 
Nathanael Greene, — laying aside the Quartermaster 
General for that single afternoon, — had planted a 
battery of cannon on an eminence from which he 
enfiladed the British line with deadly effect. The long 
day was far spent. The royal infantry had shot away 
all their eighty rounds. Their cavalry had been very 
roughly handled ; and the men, of both armies, were 
dropping by sun-stroke almost as fast as by the enemy's 
fire. The British General, in his official account of the 
battle, stated that more than sixty of his soldiers " fell 
dead as they advanced, without a wound." ^ He withdrew 

1 The Americans in the barn and orchard distinctly heard Colonel 
Monckton haranguing his people previous to the charge in which he was 
shot dead. It is said that the grenadiers advanced to the attack with so 
much precision that a cannon ball, which took the muskets of a platoon 
in flank, " disarmed every man." 

2 Lord Carlisle was told that several of Clinton's men "ran mad " from 
the heat. A number of unwounded soldiers were found dead under 
the alder-bushes along a rivulet where they had crawled for shade and 


his troops from the conflict, which was no easy matter; 
for the English Light Companies, together with a fine 
regiment of Loyalists entitled The Queen's Rangers, had 
been carried deep into the enemy's position by their 
" ungovernable impetuosity," — a fault on the right side 
which those many hours of heat, and toil, and slaughter 
had not corrected. The British army retreated, and 
bivouacked at a distance of ten or twelve furlongs 
to the rear ; while the Americans lay down on their 
arms, close at hand and in order of battle, with every 
intention of renewing the engagement at daylight on 
the morrow. 

Washington and Lafayette lay on the same cloak 
under a bright moon, sleepless among their sleeping 
soldiers, and talking, (as they well might,) about General 
Lee, and his recent proceedings. No suspicious sounds 
caught their ears across the narrow space which 
separated them from the hostile lines ; and yet the 
royal troops were awake and alert to good purpose. 
At ten in the evening their leading regiment silently 
filed away to the eastward ; and, by midnight, nothing 
remained in the British camp except a few badly 
wounded men and officers, while the rest of the army 
was already miles away on the road to Middletown. Sir 
Henry Clinton had gained such a start^that his adver- 
saries abandoned the pursuit as hopeless. On the first of 
July he reached Sandy Hook, where Lord Howe lay 
at anchor after a very rapid passage from the Capes of 
the Delaware. Clinton did not take his friends on 
board the fleet by surprise, for the signs of his approach 
had been painted in glaring colours on the western 
horizon. " The army," (wrote Lord Carlisle on the 
thirtieth of June,) *' was not yet arrived. Some fires 
at a distance, the usual and terrible index of their 

water. The royal troops wore thick woollen clothes ; whereas many Ameri- 
cans were still in thin rags, and such of them as were better equipped threw 
down their packs, and fought in their shirt-sleeves. But, even so, they 
suffered greatly. Washington, on several successive days, reported that 
the sun had killed some of his men, and many of his horses. 


motions, informed us of their position." The course 
of the departing British through the townships of New 
Jersey was everywhere marked by a trail of blackened 
ruins. Clinton, who had the feelings of an honour- 
able soldier, expressed his compunction and disgust in 
a General Order of remarkable frankness. He thanked 
his troops for their cheerfulness under fatigue, and 
their " noble ardour " in battle ; but he confessed 
himself obliged to say that the irregularity of the army 
during the march had reflected much disgrace on the 
discipline which ought to be the first object of an 
officer's attention. Marauding had been unbridled, and 
desertion rampant. No fewer than six hundred red- 
coats, of whom more than three fourths were Germans, 
were walking about the streets of Philadelphia within 
a fortnight from the day when the royal garrison left the 
city.^ Sir Henry Clinton, however, had reason to con- 
gratulate himself on his performance of the work which 
he had been set to do. He had lost a few hundred 
men in action ; but he had killed and wounded at least 
as many of the enemy. He brought off all his guns 
and colours ; he saved his baggage ; and he reached 
New York before the French. When Parliament voted 
thanks to him, and to Lord Cornwallis, an orator of 
considerable authority informed the House of Commons 
that Sir Henry Clinton's retirement from Philadelphia 
was " universally allowed to be the finest thing since 
the war began." The retreat, beyond all contradiction, 
had been successful, as retreats go ; but it was not 
precisely the kind of operation which George the Third 
and his Ministers had in view when they despatched 
more than fifty thousand soldiers across the Atlantic to 
subjugate the revolted colonies.^ 

1 Four hundred of them deserted in the first four days. A romantically 
minded chronicler asserts that they were mostly drawn back to Phila- 
delphia by " tender attachments " which they had formed there during 
the winter. Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution ; Volume II., 
Chapter 5. 

2 Fifty thousand was the popular contemporary estimate of the royal 
forces sent out to America between 1768 and 1778. Colonel Boyle's 


Washington, always prone to leniency in a case 
where he himself had been injured, or inefficiently 
served, was disposed to overlook Charles Lee's short- 
comings at Monmouth Court House. That general 
might have retained his military position, and worked 
fresh mischief to his country's cause, if the usual good 
fortune of America had not intervened to prevent it. 
Lee refused to let the question rest, and thought 
it incumbent on him to send Washington a letter, 
demanding a Court Martial in grandiloquent phrases, 
and upbraiding him for his harshness and injustice. 
"I from my heart believe," he added, "that it was not 
a motion of your own breast, but instigated by some of 
those dirty earwigs who will for ever insinuate them- 
selves near persons in high office."^ The Court Martial 
was granted; but Lee, as if his situation was not bad 
enough already, must needs once more address his 
Commanding Officer in a strain of elaborate and 
fantastic impertinence. "You cannot," he wrote, 
" afford me a greater pleasure than in giving me the 
opportunity of showing to America the sufficiency 
of her respective servants. I trust that the temporary 
power of office, and the tinsel dignity attending it, will 
not be able, by all the mists they can raise, to offuscate 
the bright rays of truth." He underwent his trial for 
disobedience to orders ; for writing disrespectful letters 
to the Commander-in-Chief ; and for misbehaviour before 
the enemy, by making an unnecessary, disorderly, 
and shameful retreat. He was found guilty, and sus- 
pended from holding any commission in the army for the 
term of twelve months. The soldiers who, in obedience 
to his orders, had sullenly and reluctantly turned 

detailed calculation places the British troops at something over thirty 
thousand, and the Germans at something over twenty-one thousand. In 
the year 1776, upwards of twenty-three thousand men sailed for New 
York, and eleven thousand five hundred for Canada. 

1 Lee warned the Commander-in-Chief that he could justify his con- 
duct " to the Army, to Congress, to America, and to the World in general." 
Washington, with grave irony, repeated those exact words in his official 


their backs upon a battle, grumbled because he was 
not sentenced to be shot ; but Lee's career was as 
effectually extinguished as if he had been delivered 
over to a firing-party of Colonel Morgan's riflemen. He 
never was re-employed ; and he spent the remaining 
five years of his existence quarrelling with Members of 
Congress and with officers of the Head Quarters Staff 
and inditing satirical attacks on George Washington 
which everybody read, and nobody heeded. He died 
as he had lived ; for, of all his grotesque literary com- 
positions, his last will and testament was the most 

The fog at Germantown, and Charles Lee's pusilla- 
nimity at Monmouth Court House, had frustrated Wash- 
ington's hopes of winning an important battle. That, 
whether by fault or fate, was his usual lot. In the 
course of the prolonged and dreary struggle for Ameri- 
can Independence he scored very few of those master- 
strokes of victory which elicit a thunder of applause 
from the crowded benches of the world's amphitheatre. 
His warlike successes, like his personal qualities, were 
unostentatious and unsensational, but of great and 
durable value. On more than one occasion, in the last 
eighteen months, his strategy had not been dazzling, 
nor his tactics perfection. Any painstaking military 
student, without being a Clausewitz or a Jomini, can 
see that Washington made mistakes, and missed chances ; 
but the final result of his exertions was the total dis- 
comfiture of his adversary. The King's troops, after 
an effort which it was practically certain that they 
would be unable to repeat, had occupied the capital 
city of the rebellion, had held it for half a year, and 
then had abandoned it for ever. The close of the 
campaign, moreover, had been marked by an incident 
of still more fatal omen to the royal cause. Sir William 
Howe's manoeuvres, ever since the beginning of the war, 
had been avowedly, and almost exclusively, directed to 
the object of compelling the Americans to accept battle 

^ An absurd passage is quoted from this document in a note on page 47 
of the preceding volume of this history. 


in the open field. " As my opinion," (so he told the 
House of Commons,) ''has always been that the defeat 
of the rebel army is the surest road to peace, I inva- 
riably pursue the most probable means of forcing its 
commander to an action." But now, at Monmouth 
Court House, Washington had voluntarily placed him- 
self within the reach of Clinton's sword ; and the English 
general, instead of welcoming the challenge to a combat 
a ontrance^ had betaken himself out of the country by 
the nearest way. Conquest is impossible when the main 
army of the invasion recoils from an opportunity of 
fighting a decisive battle against the main army of the 

Admirable had been the patience and tenacity 
with which the American leader played the watching 
and waiting game ; and that is a game which must be 
pursued, obstinately, continuously, and undeviatingly, 
until the moment is ripe for aggressive action, under 
penalty of overwhelming disaster.^ Throughout the 
whole of the winter Washington had been hampered 
and harassed by the machinations of political and per- 
sonal enemies. He knew very well what cruel and 
cutting things were said in the committee-rooms and 
lobbies, and even in the debating-chamber, of Con- 
gress about his immobility at Valley Forge, and his 
persistent refusal to assault the British redoubts in 
front of Philadelphia. The men in power, who for the 
time being were his employers and his masters, were 
not ashamed to take a forward part in denying his 
services, and depreciating his capacity. In their igno- 
rance of war, and of history, they applied to him, by way 
of derision and reproach, one of the most honoured 
names in the military annals of the world. The Roman 
Republic could show an almost interminable list of 

1 " Excellent ! Quite excellent ! The study of it has given me a greater 
idea of his genius than any other. Had he continued that system a little 
while longer he would have saved Paris. But he wanted patience. He 
did not see the necessity of adhering to defensive warfare. I have been 
obliged to do it for many months together." That was Wellington's 
comment on Napoleon's campaign of 1814. 


celebrated captains who had won brilliant triumphs, 
and added rich provinces to the empire ; but the Roman 
people reserved their highest esteem, and their warmest 
regard, for the great citizen who, under a cloud of 
obloquy, had steadfastly and resolutely opposed his own 
policy of caution to the daring genius of Hannibal. The 
poet Ennius, in that vigorous Latin which men wrote 
and spoke at the period of Rome's true greatness, has 
told how the glory of Fabius increased as the years 
went on because, when his country was in mortal 
danger, he paid no attention to the talk of men, and 
looked only to the safety of the State. ^ 

" True history," (wrote an eloquent Frenchman,) 
** never demolishes a hero. She does not make little 
that which passes for great. She contents herself with 
explaining its greatness." 2 This saying, in its relation 
to George Washington, is strikingly illustrated by the 
narrative of the long campaign, which lasted from June 
1777 to July 1778, and which covered the whole region 
between Lake Champlain and Delaware Bay. The ulti- 
mate success of the American arms, over all that vast 
theatre of war, was mainly due to Washington's skill 
and foresight, and, (in a yet more marked degree,) to 
his elevation of character. He planned a comprehen- 
sive scheme of operations ; he distributed the national 
forces among the generals in command ; he chose for 
himself the post of difficulty ; and he sent his best 
troops to the help of others, careless whether he was 
assisting a friend, or aggrandising a rival. He was the 
first to predict the capture of Burgoyne's army ; and he 
devised the measures, and supplied the means, which 
brought that event to pass. Washington was silent with 
regard to his own exploits and deserts ; but the grati- 
tude of his fellow-countrymen needed no reminding. 
They did not forget that, in three successive years, he 
had thrice expelled the invader from the mainland of 

1 "Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem. 

Ergo magis<juc, luagisque, viri nunc gloria crescit." 
^ Letter of Prosper Merimee. 
VOL. IV. ac 


the United States. " What," asked Horace Walpole, 
** has an army of fifty thousand men, fighting for sover- 
eignty, achieved in America ? Retreated from Boston ; 
retreated from Philadelphia ; laid down their arms at 
Saratoga ; and lost thirteen provinces ! " That, and 
nothing less, was the debt which the American Re- 
public owed to the energy, the pertinacity, and the 
noble self-forgetfulness of George Washington. 




Graver news had seldom crossed the Atlantic ; 
although the latest occurrences in America were not 
closely studied in London, and their full import was 
understood only by the wise. Hopes had been excited 
by Burgoyne's first successes, by Howe's victory on the 
Brandywine, and by the capture of Philadelphia. The 
catastrophe at Saratoga had been received with disap- 
pointment, and with something very nearly approaching 
to dismay. But Sir Henry Clinton's retirement on New 
York, which was the most significant event in the whole 
war, attracted little attention in English society, and 
scanty comment in the press. 

Week after week, and month after month, during 
the late spring and early summer of 1778, our news- 
papers gave very meagre information about the British 
army on the Delaware ; for the mind of Britain was 
already distracted by problems demanding more instant 
attention, and by dangers much nearer to her own 
shores. The Morning Chronicle, and the Evening Post, 
related the battle of Monmouth Court House at less 
length than they bestowed upon a sham-fight at the 
great militia camp which had been formed on Cox 
Heath, in Kent, to provide against the imminent con- 
tingency of a French invasion. Towards the end of 
July, an anxious public were informed that very heavy 
firing had been heard off the Lizard. *' Yesterday," 
(so the paragraph ran,) " a report confidently prevailed, 
which God forbid that a tithe should be true, that 
Admiral Keppel had been beat in a general engage- 

387 2C 2 


ment." ^ The rumour of a battle was premature ; and, 
when it did take place, it was claimed as an English 
victory, though among the very poorest in our naval 
annals ; but we may well believe that, during a week 
when home-news of this description floated in the air, 
men were not inclined to devote much attention, or 
regret, to the evacuation of Philadelphia. 

For two centuries back, on many critical occasions, 
England's foreign and warlike policy had presented a 
very noble record. Queen Elizabeth assisted the United 
Provinces of Holland, in their utmost need, against the 
bigotry and cruelty of Spain. Oliver Cromwell inter- 
fered in Continental matters, with decisive effect, in 
the interests of justice, humanity, and religious freedom. 
The war which WiUiam the Third fought out to the end, 
and the subsequent war which he commenced, and which 
Marlborough prosecuted, were both of them set going 
with the express object of protecting weak European 
communities from the unscrupulous and insatiable 
ambition of Louis the Fourteenth. It was true, in- 
deed, that George the Second's two great wars had 
been undertaken by the British Cabinet from mixed 
motives, amongst which national self-interest certainly 
found a place; but in both cases an honourable, a 
generous, and a disinterested idea possessed and actu- 
ated the great mass of Englishmen. Such an idea 
unquestionably inspired the exertions and sacrifices 
made by our forefathers in 1742, and during the five 
years that followed; — the vast subsidies transmitted to 
Vienna from the British Treasury ; the glorious victory 
of Dettingen ; the still more glorious reverse of Fonte- 
noy ; and the visit of Commodore Martin's squadron to 
the Bay of Naples, which was an exploit conceived, and 
conducted to a bloodless but triumphant issue, in the 
very spirit and style of the Great Protector. The main 
thought and intention of our people in that arduous 
struggle was a determination to save the young Em- 

^ The London Daily Advertiser 'y July 24, 1778. 


press Queen from insult and spoliation, and to prevent 
the balance of power from being irremediably overset 
by the ruin and dissolution of Austria. And Chatham's 
war, which in America and the East secured enormous 
acquisitions of territory for his country, presented on 
the Continent of Europe, (and not unjustly,) the ap- 
pearance of a public-spirited, and even a chivalrous, 
enterprise. English troops fought loyally and most 
successfully, and English guineas were not stinted, in 
order to strengthen the hands of Prussia against the 
most powerful combination of military States that ever, 
for so many years together, applied themselves in con- 
cert to the business of annihilating a puny neighbour.^ 
These striking events, and this all but continuous 
course of magnanimous policy, had landed England in 
a position more desirable than has ever been enjoyed 
by any nation in modern times ; and for which a 
parallel can only be found in the fame and popularity 
of Athens after she had repelled the Persian invasion, 
and before she had begun to tyrannise over her Greek 
allies. When the Seven Years' War came to a termina- 
tion, the influence of England throughout the Continent 
of Europe was immense ; her power on the high seas 
was undisputed ; and, together with these advantages, 
she had contrived to retain a large measure of the 

1 Hard words have often been applied to the doctrine of the Balance of 
Power; but, during the century which followed the Revolution of 1688, 
that doctrine excited almost as much enthusiasm as was evoked, in the 
nineteenth century, by the principle of Nationality. The efforts to pre- 
serve Europe from the acquisitiveness of France or Austria inspired 
Englishmen, in the days of Marlborough and Chatham, with the same 
kind of sympathy as their descendants felt for the Independence of 
Greece, and the Unity of Italy. Robertson published his Charles the 
Fifth in 1 769 ; and his Introductory Essay on the Progress of Society in 
Europe, which filled the first volume, contains many allusions to the 
theory of the Balance of Power. The historian apparently regarded that 
theory as amcjng the most beneficent discoveries of a civilised era. 
"That salutary system," (thus he described it,) "which teaches modern 
politicians to take the alarm at the prospect of distant dangers, which 
promjjts them to check the first encroachments of any formidable power, 
dnd which renders each state the guardian, in some degree, of the rights 
and independence of all its neighbours." 


general good-will. She had drawn the sword so often, 
and wielded it so efficaciously, on behalf of others, that 
the governments, which she had protected and rescued 
on the European mainland, seldom grudged her those 
provinces and colonies which she had founded, or 
appropriated, in distant quarters of the globe. 

" I shall do well ! 
The people love me, and the sea is mine ; 
My powers are crescent ; and my auguring hope 
Says it will come to the full." ^ 

England, after the Peace of Paris in 1763, might very 
fairly have applied to herself these verses of her own 
greatest poet. Feared and hated by some nations, 
esteemed and even beloved by others, she was every- 
where respected, admired, and imitated. Nowhere was 
she so obsequiously watched and followed as in the 
capital city of her ancient, and her most formidable, foe. 
*' What Cromwell wished," (thus Gibbon wrote in 
March 1763,) "is now literally the case. The name of 
Englishman inspires as great an idea at Paris as that of 
Roman could at Carthage after the defeat of Hannibal." 
The more frivolous of the French nobility copied and 
borrowed our simple dress, our less gaudy and far 
swifter carriages, our games at cards, the implements 
of our national sports, and the jargon of our race- 
course, — so far as they could frame their lips to pro- 
nounce it. Those among them who were of more 
exalted nature, and tougher fibre, envied the individual 
liberty and responsible self-government which prevailed 
in England, and the opportunities there afforded for a 
strenuous and worthy public career. The pride of 
young French gentlemen, (wrote the scion of a great 
family in Perigord,) was piqued by the contrast be- 
tween their own situation, and that of men of their age 
and class beyond the Channel. " Our minds dwelt 
upon the dignity, the independence, the useful and 
important existence of an English peer, or of a Member 

^ Anthony and Cleopatra ; Act II., Scene I. 


of the House of Commons, and upon the proud and 
tranquil freedom which appertained to every citizen of 
Great Britain." ^ 

Such was the towering eminence which Britain 
proudly occupied ; and it is an inevitable condition of 
national greatness that conspicuous States, on which 
the attention of mankind is concentrated, have to mind 
their ways at home, as well as abroad. Small or effete 
countries may be well or ill governed, their ministers 
and even their monarchs may come and go, and their 
constitutions may be reformed or overset, without 
attracting any considerable amount of observation 
outside their own confines ; but the politics of a people 
who lead the world are regarded, all the world over, as 
matter of universal interest and concern. The top- 
heavy edifice of personal government, — which George 
the Third, through the instrumentality of Bute, and 
Grafton, and North, had built up from the foundation, 
— was a familiar, and not a lovely, phenomenon to 
educated men in every capital of Europe. All true 
friends, and some high-minded enemies, of England 
deplored that the energies of our rulers should be 
devoted to unworthy, and worse than unprofitable, 
objects, and witnessed with sincere regret the long roll 
of sordid and demorahsing incidents which marked the 
trail of the Middlesex Election. It was a sorry spec- 
tacle to see the Government of a people which had 
humbled France and Spain, had defended Germany, 
and had conquered Canada and Bengal, wasting its 
efficiency and its credit, twelvemonth after twelve- 
month, over a miserable squabble with the voters of 

^ Memoires par M. Le Cofnte de Segur, de V Academic Franfaisgy 
Pair de France: Deuxieme Edition, page 140. 

A young Englishman of good family, writing in the year 1774, 
described how he left London, where his father never got back from 
Parliament till long after midnight, and spent his whole morning cor- 
recting his speech for the newspapers; and how in Paris he found men of 
the highest birth leading a life of un!;roken leisure, — calling occasionally 
on the King's Ministers, to exchange a few c(Mn])liments, but otherwise 
knowing as little about the public affairs of Erancc as of Japan. 


one very ill-used English county. England, before 
this, had had her faults and her misfortunes ; but since 
the Revolution of 1688, alone among the principal 
nations of the world, she had been ruled by strong men 
who forced their way to the front by prowess in debate, 
by valuable pubUc services, and by the favourable 
estimate which their fellow-countrymen formed of their 
wisdom and capacity. That, however, was the case no 
longer. Second-rate, and third-rate, place-holders now 
trifled with the welfare and honour of the country; 
while their betters were inexorably excluded from 
office because they were unacceptable to the King. 
Patriots and statesmen like Edmund Burke, Lord Cam- 
den, and Sir George Savile, were left unemployed ; 
and England was governed by such sinister or paltry 
figures as Sandwich and Rigby, Lord Weymouth and 
Lord George Germaine. 

This disastrous condition of things was vividly 
brought home to the perception of Europe by the 
notoriety of Lord Chatham's disfavour at Court. The 
ex-minister, whose commanding genius had laid France 
at the feet of England, was incomparably the most 
highly regarded of English citizens, all the Continent 
over; and nowhere was that sentiment so pronounced 
as in France itself. French people of fashion were for 
ever pestering British tourists for an authentic anecdote 
about Pitt, or for a few specimen sentences from his 
latest oration ; and the presence during a single even- 
ing of one among his kinsmen, or even his parlia- 
mentary supporters, was of itself sufficient to make the 
fortune of any drawing-room in Paris. Lord Chatham's 
reputation as a public speaker was never so widely 
diffused as during the later stages of the Wilkes con- 
troversy, and the opening scenes of the American 
Revolution. Magnificent fragments of his rhetoric, 
dating from that period, are not even yet submerged in 
the sea of oblivion which, mercifully for human endur- 
ance, in most cases drowns the oratory of the past ; 
and samples of his eloquence, while it still was fresh, 


were freely quoted, and enthusiastically admired, by 
foreigners who had learned to read our language. And 
now, at the summit of his fame, — in the prime, as 
Berlin and Paris believed, of his intellect and his 
vigour, — he was denied the opportunity of governing 
his native island, and saving from dismemberment that 
Colonial empire which he had enlarged and strengthened, 
for no other public reason than because he stood, 
squarely and manfully, for the independence of the 
British Parliament.^ 

For some years before the American Revolution 
broke out, the influence of England abroad had been 
sapped and weakened by the growing deterioration of 
her internal politics. And now, after a decade marked 
by maladministration and popular discontent at home, 
Lhe new methods of government had produced their 
appropriate fruit in the alienation of our colonies. On 
that question one and the same view was held by every 
rational foreigner, and was pointedly expressed by 
those F'rench writers who then were the recognised inter- 
preters of European thought. ^' Your ministers," wrote 
the Abbe Morellet to Lord Shelburne, " have not per- 
ceived that, by enslaving and ruining America, they 
are drying up an abundant source of wealth and pros- 
perity, of which England would always have secured 
the largest share ; for such would have been the happy 
consequence of natural and unforced relations between 
a mother-country, and a colony inhabited by a people 

1 While Horace Walpole was at Paris, in the autumn of 1765, his 
correspondence is full of casual, and occasionally very humorous, allusions 
to the awe with which William Pitt was regarded in that city. "The 
night before last," (Walpcjle wrote to Pitt's sister,) "I went to the 
Luxembourg ; and, if I had conquered America in Germany, I could not 
have been received with more attention." Walpole gave an unlucky 
Scotch baronet a very bad half-hour by assuring a party of eager, and 
curious, fme ladies, most untruthfully, that the poor gentleman was an 
excellent mimic, and could reproduce Pitt's speaking better than any man 
alive. When the terrible wolf of the Gevaudan was brought dead to 
Paris, the animal lay in state in the Que n's antechamber, and "was 
exhibited to us with as much parade as if it was Mr. Pitt." 


sprung from her race, and speaking her tongue. Those 
ministers resemble a territorial landlord who, in order 
to maintain certain honorary rights which bring him in 
little or no cash, should make war on his own tenants, 
impounding their teams and setting fire to their barns, 
with the result that his farmers would thenceforward 
be unable to till their fields, and pay their rent." It is 
true that, in our own day, an author may occasionally 
be found, in one country or another, who defends the 
policy of Lord North's cabinet as having been laudable 
and judicious. But, while the affair was actually in 
progress, all the civilised world outside our own island 
held that policy to be wrong and foolish : and it is the 
opinion of contemporaries, and not of posterity, which 
has an influence on the issue of the event. 

Then came the Declaration of Independence. There 
exists among mankind an innate disposition to believe 
that people know their own business best, and a readi- 
ness to accept the description which they give of them- 
selves in preference to any which is given of them by 
others. When America, speaking with an exuberant 
emphasis which had no example in the State-papers of 
the Old World, asserted for herself a separate and dis- 
tinct place among the family of nations, there was a 
general inclination, all Europe over, to take her at her 
word, and acknowledge her right to be the arbitress of 
her own destiny, and the mistress of her own future. 
The claim which she embodied in her famous manifesto 
was soon made good by arms. Thrice had Great Britain 
put forth her full strength against the colonists, and 
three campaigns had been fiercely contested. In the 
first campaign King George lost Boston ; the second had 
ended with the defeat of his German auxiliaries at 
Trenton ; and the third had resulted in one of his armies 
being captured, while the other was driven back into the 
city of New York. What had hitherto been the sup- 
pression of a rebellion now became, in the eyes of for- 
eign critics, the invasion of a country. The conflict was 
regarded no longer as a civil war, but as a war of con- 


quest : and conquest is never popular except among the 

The Enghsh had hitherto been regarded by other na- 
tions as the most sagacious people of modern times. A 
century and a half of bold and judicious colonisation, and 
three quarters of a century made notable by a series of 
amazingly prosperous wars, had secured for them nearly 
all the outlying districts of the globe that were then worth 
having. Their proceedings had been characterised by 
instinctive common-sense, and by obedience to the laws 
of a broadly considered and sound economy. All those 
immense enterprises, which they had undertaken and car- 
ried through, were well within their compass, and amply 
repaid them for their ungrudging expenditure of that pub- 
lic money which, at the decisive hour, they never spared. 
But now, in profound peace, at the height of unparalleled 
prosperity, they had committed themselves to an internal 
war against a part of their own empire, — a war marked 
by all the folly of a Crusade, without the piety, — of 
which the end must be distant, and the event, whatever 
shape it might ultimately assume, could not fail to be 
calamitous to Great Britain. The national reputation 
for prudence and shrewdness was grievously impaired 
in the eyes of Europe ; and our countrymen had 
thrown away a yet more valuable advantage than that 
of ranking as the cleverest race in history. The 
Declaration of Independence had aroused an unusual 
emotion in the mind of Europe. Jefferson's lofty and 
glowing phrases resounded through France and Ger- 
many in accents strange and novel, but singularly, and 
even mysteriously, alluring to the ear. The depressed 

^ Albert Sorel, in his account of the repulse of Brunswick's inva- 
sion, makes an interesting allusion to the respect felt in Europe for the 
young American Republic, after it had successfully endured the baptism 
of fire : 

" Les Fran9ais ont supporte I'epreuve decisive, celle qui a fait la ruine 
des Polonais, et la puissance des Americains. Cette nation a vu les 
etrangers sur son territoire, et elle est restee unie, inebranlable dans ses 
idees. 11 faut renoncer au fol espoir d'enchatner une nation enti^re." 


and unprivileged classes in a feudal society, which 
already had arrived within half a generation of the up- 
rising and overturn of 1789, hailed with delight from 
across the ocean that audacious proclamation of their 
own silent hopes and lurking sympathies. In previous 
wars England had figured as a champion of the weak, 
and a fearless assertor of the common liberties against 
the misuse of power by any State, or conspiracy of 
States ; but now, to the sorrow of her admirers, she was 
committed to the task of crushing the political life out 
of a group of Republics which, in the view of Europe, 
had as much right to free and uncontrolled self-govern- 
ment as the cantons of Switzerland. She had forfeited 
the general respect and esteem which formerly was her 
portion ; and she was to learn erelong that, at a grave 
conjuncture, respect and esteem are among the most 
valuable military assets upon which a nation can reckon. 
Certain incidents of the American war, — which were 
forced upon the attention of the European populations, 
and in some respects very seriously affected their com- 
fort, their security, and their commercial interests, — 
aggravated that disapproval of King George's policy 
which they so early, and so generally, felt. The more 
powerful and self-respecting governments blamed and 
despised those petty princes who had sold their troops 
for service against our revolted colonists ; while all 
civilians, and almost all true soldiers, were profoundly 
shocked by the cruelty and injustice inseparable from 
the traffic. ''The Anspach and Bayreuth regiments 
were put on board boats at Ochsenfurt ; but so closely 
packed that many of the men had to stand up all night. 
We sang hymns, and had prayers. The next day, 
many of the men threatening to refuse, the non-com- 
missioned officers were ordered to use heavy whips to 
enforce obedience, and later to fire on the malcontents, 
so that some thirty were wounded." That is the ac- 
count given by no political agitator, but by a musketeer 
who served King George bravely, and not at all re- 
luctantly, throughout the later years of the American 


war.^ It was little wonder if such scenes as these, — 
occurring along the main roads of Europe, and on the 
banks of her navigable rivers, at a time when there was 
peace within her own borders, — filled quiet, kindly 
citizens with pity and disgust. The Margrave of Ans- 
pach, who had been called in to quell the mutiny, 
escorted his troops to the seaport where they were 
embarked for New York ; and it is on record that he 
was hooted by mobs, and pelted with reproachful 
epithets, in the streets of every Dutch town which he 
traversed on his homeward journey. 

So it was on land ; and, in the department of 
maritime affairs, the American war speedily kindled 
burning questions which flared up into something not 
far short of a universal conflagration. The sudden and 
complete extinction of the great, the increasing, and 
the exceptionally profitable trade between England 
and her colonies opened out an enticing prospect to the 
cupidity of foreign manufacturers and foreign ship- 
owners. Warlike stores rose at once to famine prices 
in America ; and, if the rebellious colonies had not the 
hard dollars wherewith to pay those prices, at any rate 
there was plenty of Virginian tobacco which might be 
exported as a substitute for gold and silver. The 
multitude of New England sailors, who in former wars 
had helped to man British fleets, now shipped them- 
selves on board the privateers which preyed upon 
British commerce. Privateering on a large scale, and 
in distant waters, is impracticable unless captains of 
predatory vessels can find a port in which they are 
allowed to sell their prizes ; and such ports, situated in 
the European territories, or the colonial dependencies, 
of France, and Spain, and Holland, were soon placed 
at the disposal of the American corsairs with the con- 

^ Stephen Popp''s Journal, 1 777-1783; published by Joseph G. Rosen- 
garten. After relating the mournful and clamorous partings between the 
young villagers, and the parents from whom they were torn, the writer 
goes on to say : ** Some of the soldiers were glad, and I was of their 
number, for I had long wanted to see something of the world." 


nivance of the local authorities. Under these circum- 
stances the British Government had recourse to their 
own interpretation of the code which regulated the 
power of naval search, and the enforcement of naval 
blockades. They insisted upon a large, and in some 
cases a very disputable, extension of the list of articles 
included in the category of Warlike Stores ; and their 
narrow and rigid definition of the immunities to be 
enjoyed by neutral vessels was much more agreeable 
to the captains of their own frigates than to Dutch, or 
Danish, or Scandinavian, or Russian ship-owners and 
ship-masters. Britain, in all particulars, revived and 
put in practice the extreme theory of her maritime 
rights ; and such was the nature of the world-wide 
contest in which she was engaged that it was difficult 
for her, if not impossible, to allow those rights to 

Every week that sped, — and, as the war progressed, 
almost every day, — brought the news of some high- 
handed act on the one side, and some flagrant breach 
of the impartiality due from non-combatants on the 
other. On the deep seas, at the mouth of a Baltic 
estuary, or off the bar of a West Indian harbour, trans- 
actions were passing which continually added fuel to 
the flame of international resentment. The British 
people, sometimes with more anger than uneasiness, 
saw one European neighbour after another converted 
into an overt enemy, or, at best, into a malevolent and 
bitterly prejudiced umpire. Before the close of 1780 
she was at war with three of the naval Powers ; and 
the others had drawn themselves together into a league 
which called itself The Armed Neutrality, but which had 
very little that was neutral about it outside the title. 
Portugal alone retained, — and, (grateful little nation 
that she was,) for a long time ventured to manifest, — 
her ancient predilection for our country ; but the 
pressure at length became too strong for her fidelity, 
and Portugal threw in her lot with the rest. Ben- 
jamin Franklin could truthfully write from Paris that 


England had no friends on that side of the Straits of 
Dover, and that no nation wished her success, but rather 
desired to see her effectually humbled. Nor was 
disapprobation of Lord North's action in America 
confined to Continental, or to foreign, lands; for that 
sentiment had long been dominant in Ireland. The 
Catholics indeed, so far as in their sad and depressed 
condition they had any politics at all, were mostly for 
King George as against the Whig opposition and the 
Philadelphia Congress. But, throughout all the four 
Irish provinces, the coercion of New England was 
intensely distasteful to the public opinion of the 
governing classes ; and in that century, and that 
country, Protestant and Landlord opinion alone counted. 
*' I heard t'other day," said Horace Walpole, "from 
very good authority that all Ireland was * America 
mad.' That was the expression. It was answered : 
* So is all the Continent.' Is it not odd that this island 
should, for the first time since it was five years old, 
be the only country in Europe in its senses ? " ^ 

By the time that our American rebellion had lasted 
a twelvemonth, Great Britain could not count upon any 
friend, or any possible ally, among the leading European 
nations ; while the most powerful of them all was her 
busy and irreconcilable enemy. France, for a long while 
back, had been in that mood which renders a proud and 
gallant people the most dangerous of neighbours to a 
victorious rival. Chatham, and his English, had wrenched 
away her colonies, had expelled her from North America, 
and had ousted her from any prospect of influence or 
empire in the peninsula of Hindostan. Her troops had 
been often and disgracefully beaten, her squadrons 
driven off the ocean, her commerce annihilated, and her 
finances ruined. Her consciousness of inferiority was 
kept alive by the humiUations to which she was sub- 
jected in her intercourse with other Powers. She was 

1 Walpole to the Countess of Ossory; Strawberry Hill, June 25, 1776. 


still obliged, in one of her own home ports, to endure the 
presence and the supervision of a British Commissioner, 
whose duty it was to assure himself that no fortifications 
were erected on the front which faced the sea.^ So 
weak that she could not insist upon her right to take a 
hand in the game of European diplomacy, she was forced 
to overlook and condone the lucrative iniquities which, in 
the black and shameful year of 1772, Russia, Austria, 
and Prussia combined to perpetrate at the expense of a 
feeble and unhappy nation. It was impossible, (said 
Lafayette,) for Frenchmen of a later generation even to 
conceive the political and military nullity to which their 
country had been reduced by the Seven Years' War, 
and by her enforced acquiescence in the partition of 

France had suffered terribly, and had been stripped 
bare ; but she had learned self-knowledge in the school 
of misfortune, and was quietly and resolutely intent 
upon recovering the self-respect which she had lost. 
The more thoughtful and capable among her statesmen, 
her sailors, and her soldiers were assiduously engaged 
in amending the discipline, and increasing the fighting 
strength, of her fleets and armies. The master-workman 
in the task of national recuperation and reconstruction 
was the Due de Choiseul. A politician, who aspires to 
be a ruler, must travel towards his goal by the avenues 
which are in customary use in his own country, and 
among his own contemporaries ; and Choiseul had risen 
to the summit of affairs, — as openly and avowedly as an 
English nobleman would set himself to gain place and 
power by making speeches in Parliament, — through the 
good graces of a Royal mistress. He was a prime 
favourite, and a most serviceable partisan, of Madame 
de Pompadour ; but none the less was he a genuine 
patriot. He had his full share in the onerous respon- 
sibiHty of starting the Seven Years' War, and he did not 

^ A stipulation to this effect with regard to the port of Dunkirk, dating 
from the Peace of Utrecht, was revived and reestablished in the year 
1763 by a special article in the Treaty of Paris. 


greatly shine in the conduct of it ; but he had taken 
to heart the stern lessons which that war had taught. 
In 1 761, — the mid period of the struggle, when the 
naval power of France had already been destroyed, — 
Choiseul, with rare foresight and fixity of purpose, 
commenced the building of war-vessels on an extensive 
scale, and continued to build with redoubled vigour 
after hostilities terminated. By the year 1770 sixty-four 
French sail of the line, and fifty frigates, were actually 
afloat.^ When once the ships were provided, there 
was no lack of men. Colbert had long ago devised, 
and Choiseul had now perfected, an accurate register 
of the entire sea-going population ; and a rigorous, but 
equitable, conscription obviated the necessity of the 
press-gang, and supplied the war-fleet with the very 
pick and flower of French sailors. A matter of hardly 
less importance, when dealing with an element where, 
after seamanship has done its very utmost, cannon must 
decide the day, was the organisation of a marine 
artillery; and the French Admiralty in 1767 enlisted 
a body of ten thousand naval gunners, " systematically 
drilled once a week during the ten years still to inter- 
vene before the next war with England."^ 

Choiseul's ships were built to encounter the battle 
and the storm, and they were handled by officers who 
understood and loved their calling. Unwarmed by the 
beams of Court favour, and patient and loyal under 
the vexation of cruelly slow promotion, they were as 
blunt and rough, as brave and manly, and as whole- 
hearted in their devotion to duty, as the heroes of 
Tobias Smollett's naval stories. True sea-dogs, or rather 
sea-wolves, (for so their countrymen preferred to call 
them,)^ they knocked about the Gulf of Lyons and the 

^ Histoire de La Marine Franfaise, par E. Chevalier ; Livre I., 
Chapitre 2. 

2 Mahan's Influence of Sea Power upon History ; Chapter 9. 
Chevalier ; Preface, Livre I. 

* The Memoirs of the Due des Cars give a most interesting picture of 
his valiant brother, who was ** un vrai loup de mer, et d'un nature! 
extr8mement sec." 

VOL. IV. 2D 


Bay of Biscay in all weathers, and on every sort of 
errand. According to their notion it was better for 
King Louis that he should lose a few spars and top- 
sails, or even an occasional ship's company of sailors, 
than that his frigates should lie safe and idle in harbour 
with inexperienced captains, and crews who were no 
better than landsmen. And so it came about that the 
French marine was never so efficient, before or since, 
as at the commencement of the war which arose out 
of the American Revolution ; while the sea power of 
Great Britain had been brought down to a very low 
point by the incompetence and heedlessness of the 
British Cabinet. Lord North and Lord Sandwich 
starved the dockyards, and reduced the seamen, at 
a time when they were pursuing a Colonial policy 
which plunged their country into a desperate contest 
with all the other great navies of the world. Howe 
and Rodney, by consummate strategy and splendid 
victories, at length restored the maritime supremacy 
of England ; but, during the space of four years, the 
French fleets and squadrons, commanded by zealous 
and enterprising Admirals, — and in the case of the 
Bailli de Suffren, by a naval leader of very high 
quality, — held their own, and something more than 
their own, in the Mediterranean Sea, and on the 
Atlantic and Indian oceans. 

A scantier measure of success attended Choiseul's 
efforts to regenerate the army, which had become 
a veritable hot-bed of privilege, of indolence, and of 
almost unfathomable incapacity. There was a sharp 
and striking contrast between the conditions under 
which Frenchmen served their King on land and on 
water. The Chevalier des Cars, who afterwards became 
the Duke, began his career in life as a naval officer ; 
and, as has happened to others, he made all the better 
soldier for it afterwards. While he was still a sailor, 
the young fellow injured his health during two hard 
winters at sea in the narrow quarters, and the ineffable 
discomfort, of an eighteenth century cruiser. Then 


he obtained a commission in the Cavalry ; and, after 
a short apprenticeship with his regiment, he repaired 
to Paris, where he led an agreeable existence amidst 
a round of theatres and supper-parties, varied by 
excursions to Versailles with the object of taking part 
in the royal stag-hunts, and dancing attendance on 
the Comte d'Artois. The Chevalier was nominated 
a Colonel of Dragoons within a year and a half of 
the time when he first joined the army ; and, on the 
evening of the same day, he had the enviable honour 
of being selected from a crowd of courtiers to hold the 
candle while the King was undressing. In the meanwhile 
his elder brother, the Baron des Cars, who had served 
with credit at sea through the whole of the English 
war, and had more than once commanded a frigate, 
still ranked as a plain lieutenant. If the Baron had 
been a musketeer, or a Gendarme, of the Royal House- 
hold he might have been a Major General at five and 
twenty. All the coveted prizes of a military career were 
for men, and sometimes even for children, of quality.^ 
The upper grades in a French regiment were occupied 
by Viscounts and Marquises ; while the hard work was 
done by veterans of low degree, and often of great 
though ill-rewarded merit, who were distinguished from 
their high-born comrades by the somewhat ironical 
appellation of ''officers of fortune." ^ It must be 
admitted that troops so commanded were queer allies 
for the sturdy and uncompromising Republicans of 
Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

The French army, with all its faults, contained 

^ The Comte de Segur's father commanded a regiment when only 
nineteen years of age. A son of the Marechal de Richelieu was made a 
colonel at seven; and his Major was a boy of twelve. 

'^ This invidious system was resuscitated in the French army after the 
Restoration. Paul Louis Courier, in the year 1820, represents himself as 
comforting an old Sergeant Major, who had fought under Napoleon, by 
reminding him that he might some dav be an officer. "An officer of 
fortune I " was the reply. " You little know what that means ! I had 
rather drive a plough than become a lieutenant in my own regiment in 
order to be bullied by the nobles." 

2D 2 


plenty of valour and chivalry ; and Choiseul exerted 
himself to introduce into it any reforms and improve- 
ments which were compatible with the aristocratic 
character of the miUtary hierarchy. Close attention 
was thenceforward bestowed upon the recruiting, the 
re-mounts, the drill, the manoeuvres, the clothing, and 
the weapons. Regiments of the line, one and all, were 
dressed in the same uniform ; and in 1777 the infantry 
were supplied with a type of musket so excellent that, 
after some alterations in the mechanism, it held its 
ground through the Napoleonic wars, and up to the 
middle of the nineteenth century. The new firelock 
weighed only eleven pounds, which in those days was 
a miracle of lightness ; and when, (as was ordinarily 
the case in battle,) a soldier dispensed with the ceremony 
of taking aim, he could discharge five shots a minute.^ 
The officers were encouraged to instruct themselves in 
the tenets of the Potsdam school, which was then 
supposed to be in possession of all attainable human 
knowledge relating to the science of war. The great 
master of that school, however, took very good care 
that only a few exoteric fragments of his doctrine 
should be imparted to his foreign disciples. French 
colonels and generals were at full liberty to borrow the 
Prussian methods of manipulating troops on parade ; 
but they were allowed to learn from Frederic the Great 
" nothing except his most elementary and least essential 
lessons." 2 A French Minister of War, in the enthusiasm 
of imitation, empowered regimental officers to adopt 
the German custom of chastising privates with the flat 
of the sabre ; as if that pecuHar institution had been 
the secret of victory at Zorndorf and at Rossbach. 
Two subalterns of high birth and great promise, who 
afterwards were admirable soldiers, went so far as to 
shut themselves up in their lodgings, and belabour each 
other, turn and turn about, until they had ascertained 

^ Bonaparte en Italie: Felix Bouvier; Chapitre i, Section 2. 
'^ Memoir es par M. Le Comte de Segur \ Paris, 1825; Tome I^ 
Page 128. 


"the impression made by blows from the flat of the 
sword upon a strong, brave, and healthy man." The 
discussion of military problems became the fashion of 
the day, even beyond exclusively military circles ; and 
a dispute which raged over the question of the attack 
in column, and the attack in line, aroused almost 
as keen partisanship in Paris as the musical contro- 
versy between the faction of Gluck, and the faction of 

Choiseul, with the vigilance of a practised diplo- 
matist, had long watched for an opportunity of bringing 
about a collision with England. During the later months 
of 1770 a difficulty arose, in reference to the Falkland 
Islands, between the British and the Spanish govern- 
ments ; and the Bourbon of Spain was prepared to assert 
his claim by arms, if the Bourbon of France would back 
him in the quarrel. Choiseul used every endeavour to 
prevent an amicable settlement, and to create a war ; 
but his day of Court favour, and backstairs influence, 
was past and gone. The bright, particular star which 
was then dominant, — the cynosure by which every 
wary French statesman was careful to steer his course, 
— shone with a pacific, and not with a red and angry, 
lustre. Madame de Pompadour, in days gone by, had 
consented to plunge France into war if only the 
Empress of Austria would call her cousin. But 
Madame du Barry, unlike her more ambitious pre- 
decessor, was frankly and contentedly disrespectable. 
Unable to induce as many as six French ladies of rank 
to visit her, she entertained no hope whatever of being 
admitted into the family of European sovereigns.^ She 
detested Choiseul as a serious man, and a masterful 
minister; as a kill-joy in the class of society which 
frequented her apartments ; and as an advocate of large 
armaments, and of an open breach with England. 
Madame du Barry had learned just enough of politics 
to be aware that a war would cost a great deal of 

'^V^^'^o\t'% Memoirs of the Reign of George the Third \ Volume IV., 
Chapter S. 


money, and would render it less easy for her to lay 
her hands on the millions of crowns which were 
indispensable to her jovial, and prodigal, existence. 
She made up her mind that Choiseul should go ; and 
a change of government was effected by that process 
which France, in the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, 
regarded as the strict constitutional method. The 
King's mistress said a word to an Abbe who had access 
to the royal ear; the Abbe suggested a course of 
action to the King ; and the King summoned the 
minister into his presence, and demanded an account 
of the international situation. When Choiseul had 
expounded his policy, his sovereign's face " became livid, 
and he cried out in a fury, * Monsieur, I have told you 
that I would not have a war.' " Choiseul was dismissed 
from office ; the disagreement about the Falkland 
Islands was patched up ; and a belief that peace was 
secured, until the throne of France had another 
occupant, universally prevailed in Paris, and in 
London likewise. At Brooks's club, in May 1774, 
Mr. Edward Foley betted Mr. Charles Fox fifty guineas 
that England would be at war with France " before 
this day two years, supposing Louis the Fifteenth dead." 
Almost in the same month, the same view was expressed 
by a much greater man. " I little thought," (so Lord 
Chatham wrote from his Somersetshire home,) "that 
I should form daily wishes for the health and life 
of His Most Christian Majesty. I believe now that 
no French subject of the masculine gender prays 
so devoutly for the preservation of his days as I do, 
in my humble village. I consider the peace as hanging 
on this single life, and that life not worth two years' 

If wars of retaliation can be staved off during 
a sufficient period of time, the most passionate 
aspirations for reprisal and revenge may die away, 
and be succeeded by friendlier sentiments. That, 


within our own experience, has been the case with 
the French Republic and the German Empire ; and 
the same circumstances might have produced the same 
happy effect on the relations between France and England 
in the generation which followed the conclusion of the 
Peace of Paris. Frenchmen, smarting under recent 
defeat, cherished the notion of a fresh appeal to the 
ordeal of battle ; but prudence kept them quiet. The 
warlike power of Great Britain was enormous ; and the 
British colonies in America, growing rapidly in wealth 
and population, were more than ever capable of 
contributing, in the day of need, a most formidable 
addition to the naval and military strength of the 
mother-country. If only the concert between the whole 
English-speaking race, on both sides of the Atlantic, 
remained unbroken, France might in the end have 
accepted the accomplished fact, and diverted her energies 
from the preparations of war to the pursuits of peace. 
But the statesmanship of George the Third's ministers 
proved unequal to the task of keeping the national 
inheritance bound together in voluntary and indissoluble 
union ; and the revolt of our colonies afforded an irre- 
sistible temptation to the martial ardour, and the patriotic 
resentment, of the French army and the French people. 
When the Americans flew to arms in the early 
months of 1775, there was already a new reign in 
France ; and there was a new France also. Nothing 
so instantaneous, nothing so exceptional and peculiar 
in its character, as the intellectual Renaissance which 
immediately followed upon the death of Louis the 
Fifteenth has occurred in any age or country. The 
influence of the movement was most visible in the 
privileged class ; but that class was a nation in itself, 
for it included a hundred and forty thousand men and 
women, belonging to at least five and twenty thousand 
noble families.^ Never, (wrote a most able historian,) did 
a generation attain its majority with an equipment of ideas 

^ VAncien Regime^ par H. Taine, dc I'Academic Fran^aisc ; 
Chapitre II., Section I. 


and impressions more utterly opposed to those of their 
parents than the sons of the French nobility during the 
opening years of Louis the Sixteenth's reign. ^ It was 
a generation which had read, or at all events had bought, 
the Encyclopaedia; which derived its views on public 
right and public policy from Montesquieu, its emotions 
and aspirations from Rousseau, and its theology from 
the Philosophical Dictionary of Voltaire. Frenchmen 
of good family, who survived the great Revolution, 
looked regretfully and wistfully back to the artificial, 
irresponsible, and the intensely enjoyable lives which 
they led towards the beginning of the fourth quarter 
of the eighteenth century. Unobservant of the ominous 
fact that doctrines, with which they amused themselves 
as a pastime, had permeated those vast masses of their 
less fortunate dependents and inferiors to whom 
Freedom, and Equality, and Justice were terms fraught 
with very serious meaning indeed, the younger nobles, • 
fearless about the future, extracted the quintessence of 
all that was delightful from every phase and aspect of 
the present. On their country estates, among their 
peasants, and land-stewards, and gamekeepers, they still 
retained a substantial remnant of feudal power. At 
Versailles they basked in the sunshine of the Court, and 
secured their share of places, and pensions, and promo- 
tions. When they repaired to the camp, the mere posses- 
sion of a great name placed them in the highest ranks 
of the military service. And meanwhile they held them- 
selves free to mingle, at Parisian supper-tables, with 
all that was brilliant in untitled circles on terms of 
a pleasant imitation of plebeian equality. That is 
the picture drawn long afterwards by one of their 
own number. **We passed," (so the Comte de Segur 
wrote,) '' the short years of our spring-time in a round 
of illusions. Liberty, royalty, aristocracy, democracy, 
ancient prejudices, bold and unfettered thought, novelty 
and privilege, luxury and philosophy, — everything 
conspired to render our days happy ; and never was 

1 Doniol's History \ Volume I., Page 635. 


a more terrible awakening preceded by sweeter sleep, 
and by more seductive dreams." ^ 

The solitary grievance of these young patricians 
was that they were excluded from the government of 
the State ; for it was an established tradition in the 
French Court that age and wisdom went together. 
Youth pushed its way everywhere outside the royal 
Council-Chamber, which was closed against all except 
elderly Ministers. But the members of the rising genera- 
tion had, in truth, little reason to complain. They were 
not fully cognisant of their own power. As individuals 
they were, indeed, kept outside the administration ; 
but their influence as a class, for good or evil, was 
nothing short of omnipotent. The active force in French 
politics which alone mattered, and before which, in the 
last resort, the monarch and his advisers were com- 
pelled to bow, was the public opinion of the fashion- 
able world; and, in June and July 1775, the current 
of that opinion ran with a vehemence and unanimity 
which carried all before it. Events were taking place at 
Boston and Philadelphia which usurped the attention, 
and touched the imagination, of everyone who had a 
thought to spare from his own selfish pleasures. The 
older men, whose animosity towards England had been 
embittered by two desperate wars, and by the sacrifices 
and ignominies of a dishonourable peace, caught eagerly 
at so unique a chance of inflicting a deadly wound on 
the pride and strength of the hereditary enemy. The 
younger men were all on fire to go crusading to Amer- 
ica. Dependent on their parents for a fixed allowance, 
which seldom left them with cash in pocket, they con- 
trasted their own position with the good fortune of 
Lafayette, who had come into his property early, and 
who was able to charter his own ship, and select his own 

^ Memoires par M. Le Comte de Segur ; Tome I., Page 27. Such, in 
its essence, was the life of the great English Whigs during the first half of 
the nineteenth century. " What enviable men you are ! " said a French 
politician to the owners of Bowood and Castle Howard. " You dwell in 
palaces, and you lead the people." 


companions in arms. They envied even such unlucky 
heroes as Pulaski and Kosciusko, who, after the ruin 
of their national cause at home, had shaken the dust 
of Poland from their feet, and gone across the western 
ocean to fight for the liberty of others. The tidings 
of Lexington reached the Baths of Spa at the precise 
period of midsummer when the great world had assem- 
bled to take the waters. That town was then "the 
coffee-house of Europe," to which French ladies and 
gentlemen resorted on a pretext of health, but in reality 
for the purpose of maintaining relations with those 
important people of other countries who, in the eighteenth 
century, combined to form one immense aristocracy of 
birth and fashion. When the fighting began at Boston 
it was a strange and novel spectacle to see ** the repre- 
sentatives of every European kingdom united by a lively 
and friendly interest in subjects who had risen in revolt 
against a King." 

Almost everyone, who was somebody, in Paris or 
at Versailles, had American sympathies ; and nobody 
was at pains to conceal them. The new reign had 
relaxed the springs of despotic authority, had unpeopled 
the Bastille, and had set all tongues free to criticise and 
argue. The courtiers were not afraid of the King; 
and other members of the royal family were afraid of 
the courtiers, who seldom failed to impose their own 
view of politics upon those above them. The Comte 
d' Artois had been powerfully affected by the craze which 
was known as Anglomania. He is said to have evinced 
his respect and esteem for our nation by refusing to 
make bets with any except Englishmen ; and that was 
no barren or valueless compliment, for he had some- 
times lost as much as six thousand Louis d'or at a single 
race-meeting.^ And yet, as soon as the frequenters of 
the CEil de Boeuf began to take sides, — or, more prop- 
erly speaking, to take one side, — in the American 
controversy, the Comte d' Artois, Prince of the Blood 
though he was, had no choice but to sink his English 

1 London Evening Post of February 1777. 


proclivities, and declare himself a " Bostonian " with 
the rest. The young Queen had not been educated as 
a patroness of rebels. She was brought up by a mother 
who, of all sovereigns that ever lived, was perhaps the 
most indefatigable and conscientious assertor of the doc- 
trine that people should stay quietly where their rulers 
had placed them. Marie Antoinette's favourite brother, 
and the only person on earth of her own generation 
by whom she would submit to be lectured, was the 
Emperor Joseph the Second ; and Joseph regarded a 
monarch who encouraged disaffection in the British 
colonies as a traitor to his own caste. When an attempt 
was made to enlist his good-will on behalf of the Amer- 
ican insurgents, he coldly replied that his vocation in 
life was to be an aristocrat. But the influence of her 
Austrian family over the Queen's mind was not strong 
enough to preserve her from the contagion of the new 
ideas. Her most intimate associates had always been 
women ; and the warmest advocates of American liberty 
were to be found among a sex which never is half- 
hearted in partisanship. "Woman," (wrote a French 
historian under the Second Empire,) *' in our sad day 
the prime agent of reaction, then showed herself young 
and ardent, and out-stripped the men in zeal for 
freedom." ^ Marie Antoinette obeyed the impulse which 
pervaded the society around her, and threw herself 
into the movement with frank and vivid enthusiasm. 
Long afterwards, when the poor lady had fallen upon 
very evil days, one of her determined political antago- 
nists expressed himself as bound by justice and grati- 
tude to acknowledge that **it was the Queen of France 
who gave the cause of America a fashion at the French 
Court." 2 

The warlike emotions which agitated the public mind 
exhaled themselves, as such emotions always do, in angry 
and contemptuous reflections on the apathy and timidity 

^ Uistoire de France par J. Michelet ; Tome XIX., Chapitre 14. 
2 Paine's Rights of Man. 


of the government. The French Ministers, however, 
were prepared to extract the utmost advantage from 
a situation which they understood very much better 
than any of the fine ladies and gentlemen who were 
inveighing against their excess of caution and their 
culpable indifference to the honour of the country. The 
responsible rulers of France had taken their measures 
silently, vigorously, adroitly, and most unscrupulously ; 
and they had no objection whatever to being accused of 
backwardness, and even of pusillanimity, by foolish and 
noisy people outside the Cabinet. The war of aggres- 
sion against England, which they had in contemplation, 
was so flagrantly unjustifiable, and so entirely unpro- 
voked, that they were willing to present the appearance of 
having been driven into violent courses by an outburst 
of popular clamour and passion. The philosophical 
circles of Paris might be in a whirl of cosmopolitan 
excitement about the emancipation of a people from 
its tyrants, and the universal brotherhood of the human 
race ; but the official advisers of Louis the Sixteenth 
descried in the American rebellion nothing except an 
opportunity for promoting the national interests of 
France, and for maiming and enfeebling the British 
Empire. That had been the central object of French 
statesmanship for three generations back ; and the 
Prime Minister, the Comte de Maurepas, who had already 
passed his seventy-third birthday, was of an age which 
inclined him to pursue a continuous foreign policy. The 
old courtier saunters across the early pages of Carlyle's 
French Revolution under the guise of a frivolous votary 
of wit and pleasure ; " his cloak well adjusted to the 
wind, if so be he may please all persons." That is the 
conventional portrait of Maurepas which posterity has 
accepted, in his ov/n country and in ours. Neverthe- 
less there was a more serious side to his character. 
Through the whole of a long life he never trimmed or 
trifled over any question connected with the efficiency 
of the French fleet and army ; and he had been an 
early, and a persistent, naval reformer under rebuffs 


and discouragements which would have daunted an 
insincere or a timid man. In 1776 the edge of his 
patriotism remained as keen as ever ; but his power of 
work was impaired, and his bodily force abated. The 
burden of the crisis rested on the very capable shoulders 
of a younger colleague.^ 

The Comte de Vergennes had been French Ambas- 
sador at Constantinople when the Peace of Paris was 
signed. He felt the defeat of his country as men feel 
a grave personal misfortune. But his patriotic concern 
and mortification did not sink to the level of despair ; 
for already, with rare sagacity, he detected a possible 
rift in the imposing fabric of the British Empire. He 
foresaw and foretold, from the very first moment, the 
consequences which would infallibly result from the 
cession of Canada. So long as the English colonists had 
France for their neighbour, — harassing them with raids, 
inciting the Indians to ravage their villages, and building 
forts and blockhouses up to the very edge of their frontier, 
and sometimes even within it, — they could not afford to 
dispense with the aid and protection of the mother- 
country. But the French power had been up-rooted 
from America. England, by her own act, had destroyed 
the only check which kept her Transatlantic subjects in 
awe ; and if ever, from that time forward, she ill-treated 
or offended them, they would reply by throwing off their 
dependence. So Vergennes had specifically prophesied ; 
and, at the very moment when his prescience was justi- 

^ " Malgre son ige," (so Doniol says of Maurepas,) " il restait I'homme 
par qui avait ete operee autrefois la reconstitution de la Marine en vue de 
tenir tete a la Grande Bretagne, et de faire reprendre, un jour ou I'autre, 
a France sa part de I'empire des mers." The passage which follows this 
sentence contains a most interesting comparison between the actual, and 
the legendary, Maurepas. 

"The ablest man I knew," wrote Horace Walpole, "was the old 
Comte de Maurepas. . . . Madame de Pompadour diverted a large sum 
that Maurepas had destined to re-establish their Marine. Knowing his 
enmity to this country, I told him, (and the compliment was true,) that it 
was fortunate for England that he had been so long divested of power." 
Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George the Third \ Volume II., 
Chapter 2. 


fied by the event, he found himself Foreign Minister 
of France, with the secret strings of diplomacy in 
his grasp ; enjoying the unlimited confidence of his 
aged chief ; and controlled by no one except a youthful 
king who was too obtuse to detect all that his Ministers 
were engaged in doing, and far too shy to rebuke them 
roundly for anything rash or unprincipled which they 
had actually done. Carlyle describes Vergennes as 
sitting at his desk " in dull matter of fact, like a 
dull punctual clerk ; " but it is well for the tranquillity 
of Europe that such clerks do not often find their way 
to the top of the French Foreign Office. He was, in 
truth, a statesman with will and energy, who was 
always possessed by two absorbing ideas, the con- 
current force of which impelled him towards his goal 
through a wilderness of obstacles, and over a mountain 
of almost superhuman labour. He could not feel at 
peace with himself until his country had recovered her 
rank among the nations of the world ; and his policy 
was habitually inspired by intense and implacable 
hostility to England. 

The French Ministers were strongly disposed to 
assist and protect the American insurgents ; but they 
had a mortal terror of the British navy. They could 
not forget their experience of 1755, when they were 
taught, with no desire for a repetition of the lesson, 
that the mistress of the seas had a rough, and an 
over-prompt, way of dealing with an intruder on her 
own element. In the summer of that year, before 
ever war had been declared between the two nations, 
Boscawen attacked and scattered a French squadron 
of battle-ships, and Hawke brought into British ports 
three hundred French trading vessels, and lodged six 
thousand French sailors in British prisons.^ And now, 
in the spring of 1776, the advisers of Louis the 
Sixteenth were haunted by an apprehension that, 
if France showed her hand prematurely, England, 

1 Mahan's Influence of Sea Power', Chapter 8. 


and the English colonies, would hasten to make up 
their family quarrel, and would celebrate their recon- 
ciliation by joining together in an attack upon the 
French possessions in the West Indies. King Louis 
was solemnly and repeatedly warned by his diplomatic 
agents in London that Lord Chatham, the idol of his 
compatriots on both sides of the Atlantic, would mediate 
between the Crown and Congress, and would be re- 
called to power as Prime Minister. He would have 
at his disposal, — equipped for a campaign, inured to 
battle, and assembled at a convenient spot for embarka- 
tion, — the Boston garrison of ten thousand British 
regulars, and a host of New England minute-men and 
Virginian sharp-shooters ; while sixty vessels of the 
Royal Navy, and a swarm of colonial privateers, were 
afloat on American waters, ready and eager to bombard 
French ports, and to make prizes of French merchant- 
men. Long before any reinforcements could arrive 
from Brest or Rochefort, the famous English war 
minister would sweep the French from Saint Domingo, 
and Martinique, and Guadeloupe, and all the rest of the 
Greater and Lesser Antilles, just as, half a generation 
previously, he had swept them out of Canada.^ 

That prospect, formidable as it looked, did not 
deter Vergennes from the purpose upon which his mind 
was set ; but he thought it prudent, for the time being, 
to mask his operations by an artful system of under- 
hand manoeuvres. Disguising a flagrant breach of 
international good faith under the specious name of 
patriotic caution, he drew up a paper of Considerations 
on the Policy which should be pursued by the Govern- 
ments of France and Spain ; and, on the twelfth of 
March 1776, he communicated the document to King 
Louis, and to his own four principal colleagues in the 
Cabinet. It was essential, (he wrote,) to persuade 
George the Third that the intentions of the two 
Bourbon Powers towards England were not only pacific, 

^ Doniol ; Volume I., Page 69, and elsewhere. 


but positively friendly, in order that the English 
ministry might be emboldened to entangle themselves, 
too deep for retreat, in a fierce, a dubious, and a 
most exhausting war against their own colonists. The 
courage of those colonists, on the other hand, would 
have to be " sustained by secret favours " from France. 
They should be supplied furtively, but generously, with 
arms and money, and informed that, while it was below 
the dignity of the French King to treat openly with 
insurgents, His Majesty was disposed to recognise them 
as allies if they ventured upon the decisive step of re- 
nouncing their allegiance to the English Crown, and 
declaring themselves an independent nation. ^ 

The Chief of the Cabinet, the Minister of War, and 
the Minister of the Marine warmly approved the 
objects that Vergennes had in view, and expressed no 
repugnance to the means by which he purposed to 
attain them. But every paragraph in the Foreign 
Secretary's memorandum was intensely distasteful to 
the King. Louis the Sixteenth had little inclination 
to pose as the tutelary genius of a rebellion. ** His 
intuitions, dim as they were," forewarned him that 
revolutionary principles were among the most portable 
of all foreign products, and that no ocean was broad 
enough to preserve European monarchies from being 
infected by the contagion of American republicanism.^ 
Nor could he fail to remember how, a very short while 
back, and by his own express command, the Comte 
de Vergennes had emphatically re-assured Viscount 
Stormont, the English Ambassador in France, as to 
the intentions and the sympathies of the French 
Court.^ The Prime Minister himself, at a subsequent 

1 Doniol ; Volume I., Pages 272-286. 

2 Bancroft's i¥if>/t?r7 of the United States of America \ Epoch Fourth, 
Chapter 2. 

^ Lord Stormont to Lord Rochford ; Fontainebleau, October 31, 1775. 
Vergennes, " spontaneously, and with the air and manner of a man who 
utters his honest opinion," informed Lord Stormont that the American 
rebellion was regarded at Versailles as a calamity ; and that, far from 
desiring to increase the embarrassments of the British Government, the 


interview with Lord Stormont, spoke still more unequi- 
vocally to the same effect. '' I and my colleagues," 
said Maurepas, "• are not the men to take advantage 
of a neighbour's difficulties, and to fish in troubled 
waters. You may accept it for certain that we are 
not giving, and will never give, any single article of 
warlike stores for the use of the rebel army." ^ Louis 
the Sixteenth, who was acquainted with all that had 
passed between his own confidential servants and King 
George's diplomatic representative, recoiled, Hke a true 
gentleman, from the notion of striking a foul blow 
against a brother monarch with whom he professed 
to be on terms of cordial amity. He was governed, 
moreover, by a conviction of duty, as well as by a 
sense of honour. Although of languid will, and inert 
habits, he none the less was instinctively public- 
spirited ; and by the sincerity of his religious belief, 
and the rectitude of his personal conduct, he merited 
his conventional appellation of The Most Christian 
King. Conscience forbade him to enter upon a course 
of treachery which could not fail to involve his country 
in a hazardous and protracted war. Actuated by an 
unfeigned solicitude for the people committed to his 
charge, he shrank from wantonly inaugurating, after an 
interval of only twelve years, another devil's carnival 
of bloodshed and rapine, of national peril, and of private 
bereavement, impoverishment, and ruin. 

Louis the Sixteenth had good reason to trust his 
unfavourable judgment of the proposals submitted 
to him by Vergennes ; for his own scruples were 
shared by as wise and virtuous a minister as ever took 
part in the councils of any State, whether kingdom 
or republic, in the modern or the ancient world. 
Michelet, — the most audacious of historians, who 
has handled only too freely topics which he would 

King of France and his Ministers contemplated those embarrassments 
with extreme regret. 

1 Doniol ; Volume I., Pages 198-203. 

VOL. IV. 21 


have done much better to leave alone, — relates how, 
in the darkness of the night, an inner voice addressed 
to him the warning words : " What man of this gen- 
eration is worthy to speak of Turgot ? " ^ Every author, 
and not Michelet only, may well feel that it is 
superfluous, and almost impertinent, to praise a 
statesman the bare mention of whose name is in itself 
a sufficient panegyric. By March 1776, Turgot had for 
nineteen months been Comptroller of Finances, and, (in 
far other than the official sense of the term,) a keeper 
of the King's conscience. He had still five years of 
life before him ; and within that time, working at 
the rate at which he hitherto had worked, he might 
have brought to completion the vast, but practicable, 
scheme of public economy, extinction of privilege, un- 
fettered commerce, local self-government, and national 
education by which he confidently hoped to re-organise 
the body politic, and to renovate society. If Turgot 
had not been robbed of his royal master's confidence 
by the intrigues of those courtiers and nobles whom he 
was endeavouring to save in spite of themselves, his 
country would have been guided, along quieter paths, 
to much happier destinies than those which awaited 
her under Robespierre, and Barras, and Napoleon Bona- 
parte. France might have escaped untold horrors ; 
and Europe might have been spared an almost inter- 
minable series of useless and devastating wars. 

Turgot had been a warm, and a very early, friend 
to the independence of America ; which he welcomed 
in the interests of mankind, and not least for the sake 
of England.^ But his first duty was to his own coun- 
try ; and he combated the proposal of a warlike policy 
with an earnestness inspired by his profound conviction 
that the whole future of France was involved in the 
decision which her rulers were now called upon to take. 
His reply to Vergennes cost him some weeks of thought 

1 Histoire de France ; Volume XIX., Chapter 13. 

2 Turgot to Doctor Josiah Tucker, the Dean of Gloucester ; Paris, 
September 12, 1770. 


and labour. It was a masterly production ; a volumi- 
nous treatise, three quarters of a century in advance of 
his age, on the philosophy of colonial administration, 
and at the same time a powerful and persuasive official 
minute upon the question of the hour. England, (so 
the argument ran,) would in all likelihood lose her colo- 
nies ; or, if she succeeded in reconquering them, she 
would be condemned thenceforward to hold them in 
subjection at an expense of money, and military re- 
sources, which would bind her over, under the most 
stringent penalties, to keep the peace with her Euro- 
pean neighbours and rivals, and more especially with 
France.^ Whatever result might ensue, France would 
be the gainer ; and to choose such a moment for a wan- 
ton and gratuitous attack upon England was an im- 
measurable folly, and a signal crime. The English 
ministry had done nothing whatever to invite or pro- 
voke a war ; and every plan of aggression on the part 
of France was forbidden by moral reasons, and by con- 
siderations of national self-interest more imperious still. 
The King, (said the Comptroller-General,) was ac- 
quainted with the condition of his finances, and knew, 
better than anyone, what sacrifices and efforts were re- 
quired to stave off bankruptcy even in time of peace. 
The first cannon-shot fired against a foreign enemy 
would scatter to the winds all His Majesty's gracious 
designs for the better government of France, and for 
the ameHoration in the hard lot of her unhappy peasan- 
try. ** An English war," (such was Turgot's conclu- 
sion,) " should be shunned as the greatest of all misfor- 
tunes ; since it would render impossible, perhaps for 
ever, a reform absolutely necessary to the prosperity of 
the State and the solace of the people." ^ 

Turgot did well to spare no pains over the composi- 

^ " Que nous faisait, des lors, que I'Angleterre soumtt ou non ses 
colonies insurgentes ? Soumises, elles I'occuperaient assez par leur desir 
de devcnir libres, pour que nous n'ayons plus k craindre. Affranchies, 
tout le systeme commercial se trouvait change." 

'^ Doniol ; Volume I., Pages 280-283. The Life and Writings of 
Turgoty edited by W. Walter Stephens ; pages 295-296, and 321-324. 

3£ 2 


tion of this historical document, for it was the last im- 
portant State-paper which he wrote from his official 
chair. He had made a host of enemies by his bold and 
uncompromising action in almost every department of 
public affairs; and yet he was feared and hated, less 
for what he had done already, than for what he might 
do next. It was bad enough that the tiller of the soil 
should be released from the obligation of maintaining 
roads and highways by his unpaid labour; that the 
town artisan, emancipated from the shackles of trade 
monopoly, should be at liberty to carry his skill and 
industry into the open market ; that corn grown in one 
province should be sold, and exported, with the effect 
of lowering the price of bread in another ; and that 
tribute should no longer be exacted from government 
contractors, and Farmers General, by great people 
about the Court. All this was bad enough, but there 
was worse behind ; for it was a matter of notoriety that 
" le sieur Turgot," with the innate vulgarity of his birth 
and breeding, was not alive to the merits of a fiscal sys- 
tem under which the poor and the industrious were bled 
to the quick, while the rich and the idle " contributed a 
mere fraction of their substance to the revenue of the 
State, and then divided among themselves the larger 
part of its expenditure." Unless a change came over 
the spirit of the Treasury, the tax-gatherer would soon 
be knocking, with equal hand, at the castle and the 
cottage; and salaries and pensions would have to be 
earned by hard dull work in the service of the nation, 
instead of being distributed among the sons and daugh- 
ters of leisure, as the reward of sycophancy and im- 

The case was urgent ; and the manipulators of politics 
had recourse to the machinery by which Ministerial re- 
arrangements had been effected during the late reign, 
with one very important modification. Female influence 
was again called into play ; but it was the influence of 
the wife, and not of the mistress. There was an out- 
burst of sinister activity in the closely-banded circle of 


high-born men and women by whom Marie Antoinette 
was encompassed, and plundered, and prompted. Tur- 
got was not blind to the perils of his situation. When 
he first went to the Treasury he had addressed his royal 
master in plain and honest words. " I shall have," he 
said, '' to struggle even against the goodness and gen- 
erosity of Your Majesty, and of the persons who are 
most dear to you." He kept his promise; and the 
Queen, before very long, became his personal adver- 
sary. Her only idea with regard to public money was 
to get as much as possible of it to spend. However 
often her lap was filled with gold, and her toilet-case 
with jewels, she still had unpaid bills which she dared 
not show to her husband because she knew that her 
husband dared not show them to his Comptroller Gen- 
eral.^ There was one grudge rankling in her memory 
which surpassed all others. In an evil hour for herself, 
and for the object of her misplaced bounty, she had 
done her utmost, without success, to procure the enor- 
mous salary of fifty thousand crowns a year for her 
favourite, the Princesse de Lamballe ; the same ill-fated 
lady who, in September 1792, heard economic reformers, 
of a very much fiercer type than Turgot, thundering at 
the door of her prison. The Austrian ambassador at 
Versailles, the Comte de Mercy, had been entrusted 
with the duty of keeping his Empress punctually and 
faithfully informed as to her daughter's conduct; and 
the young Queen was exhorted, both by her mother 
and brother, to abstain from interference in French 
politics. But her monitors were far away, and her 
tempters near at hand. Seldom indeed, in all the his- 
tory of the past, was greater mischief wrought by 
woman than when Marie Antoinette placed herself at 
the service of that base and selfish conspiracy for the 
murder of a noble career, and the destruction of a na- 
tion's hopes.2 

^ Monsieur de Mercy to the Empress of Austria ; July 19, 1776. 
* Marie Antoinette confessed to her mother that she was not ill 
pleased by the changes in the ministry, although she herself had not 


The threatened minister became conscious that the 
ground was undermined beneath his feet. He stood 
deserted and alone in the face of danger. Even Presi- 
dent Malesherbes, the only colleague with whom he was 
on terms of sympathy and confidence, resigned office un- 
expectedly, and, (as regards Turgot,) somewhat shabbily 
and disloyally. Sixteen years afterwards Malesherbes, 
with a prospect of the guillotine as his advocate's fee, 
valiantly defended his fallen sovereign at the bar of 
the Convention ; a conspicuous example that there have 
been those who find it less terrible to confront death 
than to defy social unpopularity. Malesherbes retired 
on the twelfth of May 1776; and, on the same evening, 
Turgot received a message to the purport that he was 
no longer Comptroller General. There was joy in the 
corridors of Versailles ; and dowagers, who thought 
that they wrote Hke Madame de Sevigne, filled their 
letters with epigrams upon the fallen minister. But 
the millions, who toiled and suffered, knew that they 
had lost their best friend, and their only protector; 
and all sincere well-wishers to France were over- 
whelmed by grief, consternation, and a sentiment akin 
to despair. Condorcet sent Voltaire a melancholy and 
touching letter, ending with the words: "Adieu! We 
have had a beautiful dream." '' Ever since Turgot is 
out of place," (Voltaire himself wrote,) " I see only 
death before me. I cannot conceive how he could 
be dismissed. A thunderbolt has fallen on my head 
and on my heart." The announcement of the great 
Minister's removal from power was everywhere recog- 
nised as the death-knell of European peace. ** Such 
men as Turgot," (said Horace Walpole,) **who are the 
friends of human kind, could not think of war, however 
fair the opportunity we offered to them. Poor France 
and poor England ! " After the deed was done. King 
Louis was overcome with shame, and very sad and 

meddled in the matter. De Mercy told Maria Theresa a very different 
story. It was, (he wrote,) the Queen's full intention to have the Comp- 
troller General turned out from office, and sent straight to the Bastille. 


anxious. " Except myself and Turgot," (so he had 
been used to say,) '* there is no one who really loves 
the people." Sensible of his own weakness, he foresaw 
that he would soon be coerced into undoing all the 
good work which he and his departed servant had 
accomplished together. And, now that he stood alone 
against the opinion of his united Cabinet, he felt himself 
powerless to avert the projected war with England which 
shocked his conscience, and which in its consequences 
proved fatal to his reign. 



When Turgot fell from power, Vergennes became un- 
disputed master of the international situation ; and he 
had at his disposal, for carrying out his purposes, an 
instrument as sharp as ever political craftsman handled. 
He was in intimate and secret relations with a man 
who may fairly be described as having led the typical 
French career of the eighteenth century. Pierre Au- 
gustin Caron, born in the Rue Saint-Denis at Paris in 
the year 1732, was the son of an ex-Calvinist watch- 
maker who enjoyed the patronage of the Court at 
Versailles. The younger Caron might often be seen at 
the Palace on his father's errands. He was greatly 
noticed for his handsome face and manly bearing, his 
assured air and dominant manners, and the instinctive 
impression which he produced on all who met him 
that, against whatever difficulties and by whatever 
methods, he intended to carry the world before him. 
His merits were not lost on the great ladies of the 
Court ; but he had the good sense to try his wings in a 
low flight, and, by the age of three-and-twenty, he was 
on the best of terms with the wife of one of the sixteen 
Clerks of Office of the King's Household, who, as a 
matter of fact, and in plain words, were the waiters at 
the royal dinner-table. The husband, already advanced 
in years, made over his employment to his young friend, 
and died a few months afterwards. Caron had now a 
salary of two thousand francs, and enjoyed the privilege 
of wearing a sword when he brought in the dishes. 
He married the widow ; and from that time forward he 
signed himself Caron de Beaumarchais, after a small 



feudal estate which was said to be in the possession of 
his wife's family. The exact locality of that estate has 
never been ascertained ; but the name was soon famous 
throughout Europe. 

Beaumarchais climbed fast when once his foot was on 
the ladder. He had the inestimable gift of persuading 
others to serve him without requiring in return any- 
thing except his gratitude. His first wife died within 
the year, and in due time he married another rich and 
handsome widow. He had not attained the social rank 
which quaUfied for admission among the friends, and 
personal clients, of Madame de Pompadour ; but he 
contrived to make acquaintance with the gentleman 
who had been her husband, and he struck up a very 
close alliance with her confidential man of business. 
This was Monsieur Du Verney, the eminent capitaHst 
who put Voltaire in the way of obtaining that army- 
contract which made him the Croesus of literature, and 
who was an equally generous patron to Beaumarchais. 
Du Verney endowed the young fellow with a large sum 
of money ; he indoctrinated him in the secrets of Court 
finance ; and he provided him with funds whenever a 
lucrative office was for sale which was beyond the 
compass of his private resources. Beaumarchais was 
thus enabled to become Secretary to the King, Lieu- 
tenant-General of the Parks and Chases, and Captain 
of the Warren of the Louvre. He laid down half a mil- 
lion francs, at a single payment, in order to buy a place 
among the Grand Masters of the Lakes and Forests ; 
but on this occasion he had aimed too high, and the 
other members of the Board refused to be associated 
with the son of a watchmaker. Beaumarchais declined 
to intrude where he was not welcome, and avenged 
himself on his fastidious opponents by a delicious 
specimen of his sarcastic humour.^ He was an admi- 

^ Beaumarchais, the most perfect of sons and brothers, never wrote 
better than when he was rebuking those who jeered at his family, or 
attacked his private hfe. "I own," he said on one occasion, "that 
nothing can wash away the reproach of having been the son of a watch- 
maker. I can only reply that 1 never saw the man with whom 1 would 


rable writer. His prose was always clear and pointed, 
sometimes remarkably forcible, and often exquisitely 
graceful ; and his verse, which flowed profusely, satis- 
fied the taste of the day. His celebrity owes a very 
large debt to the genius of others ; for his name has 
been perpetuated by Rossini and Mozart in the two 
most popular operas, of their own class, that ever were 
exhibited on the stage. Beaumarchais himself was no 
mean musician. He sang with taste ; and played to 
perfection on the flute, and on the harp, which then 
was a novelty in Paris. He was a principal performer 
in the weekly concert given at Versailles in the apart- 
ment of those four daughters of Louis the Fifteenth 
who bore the august title of Mesdames de France. 

Beaumarchais breathed freely and easily in the corrupt 
element by which he was surrounded; but he had in 
him the making of a greater man if he had lived in 
greater times. He was something very different from 
a supple courtier. The Dauphin, who was an abler 
prince than his unfortunate son, and far more virtuous 
than his father, said that Beaumarchais was the only 
person, in and about Versailles, from whom he could 
learn the truth ; and the two famous comedies, the 
Barber of Seville and the Marriage of Figaro, which 
were produced at a time when their author was still 
laboriously mounting the path of advancement, abounded 
in sharp strokes against the follies of those great folks 
who had the power to make, or unmake, his fortunes. 
Beaumarchais, the most brilliant of upstarts, never 
ceased to be a mark for envy, and for what would 

exchange fathers ; and I know too well the value of that time which, in 
the exercise of our trade, he taught me to measure, to waste any of it in 
taking notice of such despicable trivialities." 

An adversary of Beaumarchais endeavoured to sap his credit with the 
Comte de Vergennes by accusing him of ** keeping girls." Beaumarchais 
favoured his calumniator with a letter, of which he sent a copy to the 
Foreign Secretary. " Monsieur," (he wrote,) *' the girls whom I have 
kept for the last twenty years are five in number ; my four sisters and my 
niece. Two of them, to my great sorrow, have lately died ; but I likewise 
support that unhappy father who is unfortunate enough to have given to 
the world so shameless a libertine as myself." 


willingly have been contempt ; but no one then lived 
with whom it was less safe to trifle. The wounds in- 
flicted by his pen took long to heal; and he possessed 
the courage of the swordsman as well as of the satirist. 
He had killed his man in a terrible duel ; and, while his 
reply to an insolent letter was invariably couched in 
phrases of subtle and refined wit that set all the world 
laughing, he was pretty sure to conclude with a very 
significant hint that he was ready to make good his 
words by push of steel. He was admired and dreaded as 
the most dexterous and persistent of intellectual gladia- 
tors. Never was there such an example made of any 
offender as Beaumarchais made of Monsieur Goezman, 
the Judge who gave a decision unfavourable to his claims, 
after the Judge's wife had accepted from him a purse of 
gold. The guilty pair were ruined ; and the disap- 
pointed suitor emerged from his single-handed conflict 
against the paramount, and unscrupulously exerted, 
authority of the Parliament of Paris with the reputation 
of having approved himself the most irrepressible con- 
troversialist in France.-^ 

Beaumarchais was now regarded in the highest 
quarters as too clever to be wasted, and much too 
formidable to be left unemployed. Shortly before the 
death of Louis the Fifteenth he was sent to England, 
under a feigned name, as a private agent of the French 
Cabinet. Information had arrived from London that, 
somewhere in the very lowest and dingiest regions of 
literature, preparations were on foot for issuing a book 
which purported to be the secret memoirs of Madame 
du Barry. Beaumarchais settled the business at a cost 
in money which greatly exceeded the value of that 
lady's reputation. He secured and destroyed the 
manuscript ; and three thousand copies of the work 

^ Everything known about Beaumarchais has been told, and well told, 
in the admirable work entitled Beaumarchais^ et Son 7'emps, par Louis 
de Lomenie, de V Academic Fran^aise ; Paris, 1855. De Lomenie ends 
his last volume with a very just, and interesting, disquisition on the 
political eminence, which Beaumarchais might have reached if he had 
been born in the days of free and constitutional government. 


were burned in a lime-kiln under his personal super- 
vision. He next bought up, for a still larger price, a 
mischievous libel upon Marie Antoinette ; and his 
successful conduct of these two negotiations led to his 
being entrusted with a still more singular commission. 
He was directed to seek out the Chevalier d'Eon, who 
then resided in England, and order him in the name of 
King Louis to dress himself in petticoats, and make a 
public declaration that he was a woman, which he most 
certainly was not. The work in which Beaumarchais 
was engaged during his visit to our island cannot be 
described as dignified or important ; but he found time 
to spare for matters more worthy of his attention, and 
not less suited to his very peculiar abilities. He had 
a lively interest in British politics, which at that time 
were almost exclusively concerned with the question of 
America. He rubbed shoulders with men of all parties, 
and he heard both sides. Lord Rochford, the most 
approachable among Secretaries of State, made him the 
companion of his all too numerous lighter hours ; and 
he was a sworn brother to John Wilkes, who resembled 
Beaumarchais as nearly as an Englishman can resemble 
a Frenchman, in the defects and qualities of his charac- 
ter, and not less in the most remarkable circumstance of 
his past career. There was not much to choose, whether 
for praise or blame, between the champion of the Goez- 
man law-suit,, and the hero of the Middlesex election. 
As soon as the rebellion broke out, Beaumarchais fore- 
saw that the colonists would win ; and he entertained a 
deep and passionate belief that, if France helped them 
in their hour of need, she would obtain her share in the 
advantages of their victory. He threw himself into the 
movement with an energy so masterful that he imposed 
his views upon the leading members of a Cabinet, which 
he served in a humble, and even an ignominious, capacity. 
There is no more instructive instance of the stupendous 
results which may be accomplished by native force of 
will, and acute perception of the right moment for vigor- 
ous action, than the story of the adventurer who, with no 


recognised official position, and three aliases to his name, 
never hesitated or rested until he had set France and 
England by the ears. 

The potent influence exercised by Beaumarchais over 
the decisions of the French Government is a strange 
phenomenon, but not altogether inexplicable to those 
who have been behind the scenes in politics. A private 
individual, with a message of his own to deliver, finds 
it very difficult to get a hearing in official quarters. But, 
if once he has been accepted as an adviser, he has every 
chance of making his opinion felt ; for he speaks with a 
freedom of conviction, and novelty of phrase, refreshing 
to overworked statesmen depressed and dulled by the 
sense of responsibility, who are tired of discussing an 
affair of State among themselves, and who know each 
other's arguments by heart. Beaumarchais twice 
addressed the Royal Council at Versailles in a strain of 
fiery and picturesque eloquence which no Cabinet Min- 
ister, that ever lived, would venture to inflict upon his 
own colleagues. His line of reasoning was artfully 
adapted to the pacific temperament of Louis the Six- 
teenth, and to his unambitious aspirations for the wel- 
fare and tranquillity of his people. The American 
rebeUion, (so Beaumarchais wrote,) must terminate, if 
left to itself, in a complete victory for England, or for 
the revolted colonies ; and in either of those contingencies 
France would inevitably, and almost immediately, find 
herself plunged into a sanguinary, and frightfully ex- 
pensive, war. The only possible means of averting 
such a catastrophe was to maintain an equilibrium be- 
tween the two contending parties by surreptitiously help- 
ing the insurgents, during the first stage of the conflict, 
with arms and ammunition. That transaction should be 
so conducted as not to compromise the French Govern- 
ment ; and, if His Majesty required the services of a 
devoted agent, Beaumarchais himself was prepared to 
accept the office, and to compensate for lack of ability 
by zeal, fidelity, and discretion. " Believe me, Sire," 
(he said,) '* when I assure you that the mere preparations 


for a first campaign would be more onerous to your 
Treasury than the whole amount of those modest suc- 
cours for which Congress now petitions ; and that the 
paltry and melancholy saving of a couple of million francs 
at the present moment will cost you three hundred 
millions before two years are over." ^ In his private cor- 
respondence with the ministers, Beaumarchais was much 
less respectful to his Sovereign ; and he did not scruple 
to say plainly that, in small things and in great, Louis 
the Sixteenth never had, and never would have, a mind 
of his own. He recalled to Maurepas how that amiable 
and docile Prince had sworn that he would not allow 
himself to be inoculated ; and how, a week after the 
oath was taken, he had the germ of the small-pox in 
his arm. " Everyone," said Beaumarchais, ** knows how 
the case stands between the King and yourself ; and 
no one will excuse you, if you cannot persuade His 
Majesty to adopt those high designs on which your own 
soul is intent." ^ 

Such letters, in any previous reign, might have 
lodged the writer in the Bastille, and consigned the 
minister to disgrace and exile ; but Maurepas and 
Vergennes stood in no awe whatever of Louis the Six- 
teenth, and they were impressed and fascinated by 
Beaumarchais. He had proposed himself as an inter- 
mediary between Philadelphia and Versailles ; and he 
was promptly taken at his word. In June 1776 the 
Foreign Secretary handed him an order on the French 
Treasury for a million francs ; and, two months after- 
wards, another million was transmitted to him by the 
Court of Madrid. From Spain he also borrowed a title 
for the fictitious house of business under cover of 
which he traded ; and purchases were made, and ships 
chartered, on behalf, not of Caron de Beaumarchais, 

^ Memoire remis au Roi cachete^ par M. de Sariines le 21 SepUmbre^ 
1775. Memoire remis h M. le Comte de Vergennes, cachet volant, le 
29 Fevrier, 1776. 

2 Memoire de Beaumarchais, remis au Comte de Maurepas le 30 MarSx 


but of Roderigo Hortalez and Company. It was a 
favoured firm, whose buyers found means to procure 
surplus military stores in great quantity, and excellent 
condition, from the public arsenals of France ; together 
with a large number of cannons and mortars cast in 
the royal gun-factories, on which, by a convenient 
oversight, the authorities had omitted to stamp the 
royal arms.^ The custom-house people, and the officers 
of the port, at Havre and Nantes had at first been 
troublesome and inquisitive; but in January 1777, 
after the arrival of a government courier from Paris, 
they stopped asking questions about any vessels, bound 
for an unknown destination, which had been taking sus- 
picious cargoes on board. Half a score of merchant- 
men, ostensibly belonging to Hortalez and Company, 
were presently on their way to America ; and, in the 
course of the next few weeks, three ship-loads of muskets 
and gunpowder, together with clothing and footgear for 
five-and-twenty thousand soldiers, were landed at Ports- 
mouth in New Hampshire ''amidst acclamations, and 
clapping of hands, from an immense multitude of spec- 
tators." Only a very short time had elapsed since the 
Comte de Vergennes, in the name of his monarch, had 
congratulated the English ambassador on the capture 
of Rhode Island by the English navy ; and the Foreign 
Secretary had thought fit to add, on his own account, 
that he had heard the good news with an emotion of 
''true sensibility."^ They httle knew our country 
who imagined that she could be tricked and flouted 
with impunity. It was a matter of absolute certainty 
that now, as at other periods of her history, she would 
encounter secret treachery by open resort to arms. 
That million of francs, by the judicious and timely 
disbursement of which the French Ministry had hoped 

1 This circumstance is stated in a conversation between the Duke 
of Grafton and Lord Weymouth, reported in the ninth chapter of the 
Autobiography and Political Correspondence of the Duke of Grafton, 
Edited by Sir William Anson. 

2 Doniol ; Tome II., Chapitre 6. 


to inflict a mortal injury on the British power with small 
cost and danger to themselves, had grown, before the 
affair was finally settled, into a war expenditure of 
something very near a milliard and a quarter ; and the 
royal government of France, which had stooped to such 
unroyal practices, was submerged in an ocean of bank- 
ruptcy where it was destined miserably to perish. 
That was what came of an attempt to fight England 
on the cheap.^ 

The ablest monarch on the Continent of Europe was 
an unsparing critic of the British policy, and a personal 
enemy of the British sovereign ; but he was wise enough, 
and old enough, to regulate his animosity by a prudent 
and rather selfish caution. Frederic of Prussia had 
already reached his grand climacteric. He was pre- 
maturely aged in looks and in health ; a broken man, 
if the body could have subdued the soul. But there 
was tempered steel within that frayed and battered 
sheath ; and his spirit was unquenched, his will firm, 
and his wit keen and biting. In October 1775 he had 
been prostrated by the most severe illness from which 
he ever rose alive. The British ambassador at Berlin 
reported him to his Court as dying; and the French 
accounts exaggerated his physical weakness, (to use 
Frederic's own martial metaphor,) as much as they 
always were accustomed to exaggerate the English 
losses in a pitched battle. He was very ill ; but he 
never wasted an opportunity ; and, during the hours 
when the doctors would not allow him to work, he lay 
quiet, and thought the American question out.^ The 
illustrious invalid, on his sick-bed, understood George 
the Third's affairs much better than they were under- 
stood by George the Third himself when in full posses- 

^ It was calculated that, between the years 1778 and 1783, the war 
with England cost the French Treasury forty-eight million pounds sterling. 
It was the main cause of those financial difficulties which led immediately 
up to the Revolution of 1789. 

2 Le roi Frederic au Comte de Maltzan, Octobre 1775. 


sion of his health ; and some of the reflections which 
presented themselves to Frederic's mind were eminently 
just, and far from ill-natured or ignoble. He had 
known and admired England at a period when she was 
true to her better self, and while she still obeyed the 
guidance of her best man. She had been the only ally 
who, in the old hero's immense and varied experience, 
had ever given him more help than trouble ; and Lord 
Chatham was the one human being on earth whom, in 
his heart, he acknowledged as his peer. Frederic would 
gladly have seen our nation intelligently and strongly 
governed; taking an active part in European politics; 
and remaining faithful, at home and abroad, to those 
principles of liberty which, (however little he might 
desire to see them introduced into his own kingdom,) 
he regarded as the main source of England's strength, 
and as the common heritage of her sons in every 
quarter of the globe. He thought it ''very hard," 
(such were his exact words,) that Parliament should 
have proclaimed the colonists as rebels for defending 
their privileges against the encroachments of the central 
government. '* Every Englishman," he said, ** who is a 
friend to his own country, must deplore the turn that 
affairs are taking, and the odious perspective of discord 
and calamity which has opened in the history of his 

That sentiment was finely expressed, and honourable 
to Frederic's head and heart ; but his hostility to the 
Court of St. James's was inflamed by prejudices and 
resentments less worthy of so great a ruler. In his 
persona' dislikes he was only too little of a hypocrite ; 
and his opinion of contemporary monarchs, and their 
favourites of both sexes, had always been the one and 
only State secret which he was incapable of keeping 
unrevealed. Everything in Prussia was strictly governed 
except his own tongue and pen ; and he would have 
avoided many serious difficulties if to the military 
genius of a Gustavus Adolphus, and the administrative 
faculty of a Peter the Great, he had added the charac- 

VOL. IV. 2F 


teristic attribute of William the Silent. There were 
two men, and one woman, by whom Frederic esteemed 
himself to have been deeply injured, and whom he 
never even pretended to forgive. The woman, who 
was Madame de Pompadour, had by this time died ; but 
the other objects of his wrath were still within the reach 
of his ill offices, and the range of his satire. It had 
been a bad moment for the King of Prussia when, at 
the crisis of the Seven Years' War, the military and 
financial assistance extended to him by George the 
Second, and William Pitt, was unexpectedly withdrawn 
by George the Second's successor, and his new Scotch 
Prime Minister. Half a generation had elapsed since 
that distressing event occurred ; but Frederic even yet 
could never mention George the Third and Lord Bute 
with patience, and very seldom with decency. A 
scalded cat, (he would say,) dreaded even the cold 
water ; and he, for his part, was incapable of being 
friends with a prince who had treated him with such 
signal duplicity. On one occasion, indeed, he went so 
far as to tell his ambassador in London that he would 
as soon be an ally of King George as a good Christian 
would be on terms with the Devil ; and he was fond of 
declaring that Lord Bute would certainly be hanged 
for throwing away the American colonies, and that he 
himself would be only too delighted to provide the 

Although Frederic the Great seldom denied himself 
the indulgence of giving free play to his malicious 
humour, he had not become the most famous, and the 
most successful, of European potentates by basing his 
foreign policy on his private antipathies and predilec- 
tions. He hated King George, and he despised King 
George's ministers ; but, during every successive phase 
of the American dispute, his course was exclusively 
determined by the conception which he had formed of 
Prussian interests, and by no other consideration of 

^ Le roi Frederic au Comte de Maltzan, 3 Janvier 1774; 9 Janvier 
1775; 10 Octobre 1776; 7 Avril 1777. 


any sort or kind whatsoever. He had long ago been 
satiated with campaigns and battles. In his ambitious 
youth, before he had been a twelvemonth on the throne, 
he had cut out for himself a task which lasted him his 
life-time ; and now, at the age of sixty-three, he had 
no mind to re-commence his Herculean toils, and 
expose his people, whom he sincerely loved, to the 
sacrifices of war and the miseries of invasion. But for 
some while past he had foreseen, with stern reluctance, 
the approach of a political contingency which would 
force him once again to draw the sword. The Elector 
of Bavaria, who was in precarious health, might die 
at any moment, leaving behind him no issue, and a 
disputed succession. His Duchy was claimed by the 
Emperor of Germany, on the most flimsy and anti- 
quated of pretexts ; and Joseph the Second made no 
secret of his intention to march across the Inn river, 
and take forcible possession of Munich, and the adja- 
cent district, as soon as the breath was out of the 
Elector's body. So great an increase of territory would 
render the House of Austria nothing less than despotic 
within the boundaries of the Empire ; and Frederic was 
firmly resolved to stand forward in the character of the 
champion of German independence. 

As Generalissimo of the levies of the Confederacy, 
with his own splendid army to set them an example of 
valour and discipline, the King of Prussia was a match 
for any force which Austria herself could place in the 
field ; but it would be a far more serious business if the 
Emperor Joseph could persuade Marie Antoinette to 
cajole her husband into embarking upon an offensive, and 
defensive, alliance with the Court of Vienna. The young 
Queen of France was deeply attached to her brother, 
and followed his advice on all points where she recog- 
nised his title to interfere with her opinions and her 
conduct. If it was a question of enriching a favourite, 
or of spending too much money on her milliner and her 
landscape-gardener, she was in the habit of treating his 
admonitions with silent neglect; but she obeyed him 



loyally and eagerly with regard to any matter that 
excited the ambition, and promoted the aggrandise- 
ment, of the family from which she sprang. The 
instinct of the Parisians had already condemned her, 
not unjustly, as a good Austrian and a very indifferent 
Frenchwoman ; and the knowledge that she was devoted 
to the interests of his own life-long adversary gave deep 
concern, and unsleeping anxiety, to the ruler of Prussia. 
That doughty soldier was nervously alive to the danger 
of female influence in high places. When Turgot fell, 
and when the authority of the first administrator of his 
generation withered before the breath of a woman's dis- 
pleasure, Frederic expressed his dread lest France should 
thenceforward '* pass under a Government of the distaff;"^ 
and the veteran warrior had cruel reason to regard the 
distaff as the most formidable of weapons. What with 
two empresses, and a King's mistress, — three women, 
(so he used to say,) hanging at his throat for seven 
years together, — he had come so near to being throttled 
that he had no inclination to repeat the horrible ex- 
perience. He held it as a matter of life and death 
that, for several years to come, the attention of France 
should be diverted from Prussia, and that her energies 
and resources should be consumed in another, and a 
distant, quarter. If the Cabinets of Versailles and 
London could be embroiled over the question of 
America, Louis the Sixteenth would have no men or 
money to spare ; and Joseph the Second would be 
reduced to fight single-handed in the German war which 
now was imminent. The King of France might be the 
most uxorious of husbands ; but no sane or rational 
French statesmen would aspire to have Frederic the 
Great for an enemy on land, at a time when they were 
contending at sea against the power of England. 

The King of Prussia, who was no vulgar soldier, 
knew that a long period of stable peace was a prime 
necessity for France, exhausted, as she was, by a series 
of calamitous wars ; and he had sincerely applauded 

^ Le roi Frederic a M. de Goltz; Potsdam, 25 Avril 1776. 


Turgot as a wise and merciful man, who made it his 
object to relieve a wretched peasantry from the fiscal 
burdens under which they groaned.^ But Frederic 
was not in a position to afford himself the luxury 
of yielding to an impulse of philanthropy. During 
five-and-thirty years of peril and difficulty he had 
lived in single-minded obedience to the law of self- 
preservation ; and, when he arrived at the conclusion 
that a quarrel between France and England would 
conduce to the security of his own kingdom, he 
put aside all thoughts of compassion for the French 
tax-payer. From the beginning of 1778 onwards he 
employed his immense cleverness, and his unequalled 
authority, to impress upon Louis the Sixteenth's 
ministers a conviction that the revolt of the American 
colonies was an opportunity for reducing the power 
of Great Britain which had never occurred before, 
and could not be expected to present itself again 
in the course of three generations.^ That was the 
text upon which his ambassador at Versailles was 
ceaselessly exhorted to ring the changes. The poor 
man could never preach often enough, or loud enough, 
to satisfy his exacting master. Every week, — and, as 
the plot thickened, every third day, — brought from 
Potsdam a hotly worded reminder that King Louis, 
and his advisers, were letting the favourable moment 
slip. The pusillanimity of the Cabinet at Versailles, 
(so Frederic declared,) would be an eternal monument 
of weakness and indecision, and would prove that 
French public men lacked either the nerve, or the 
ambition, to revive the commanding part which their 
Court had formerly played on the theatre of Europe. 
When the unhappy Prussian envoy sought to excuse 
himself from acting as the mouthpiece for a diplomatic 
message couched in such very unflattering terms, he 

^ Le roi Frederic a M. de Goltz, i Juillet 1776 ; a Monsieur d'Alembert, 
Octobre 1774. 

2 These words are taken from a letter written by Frederic in September 


was told that his explanation was a parcel of verbiage, 
not worth the travelling expenses of a courier. Instead 
of pestering his Sovereign with page after page of 
diffuse and senseless rubbish, — the sort of stuff that 
a parrot might write if it could use a pen, — let him go 
straight off to the Comte de Vergennes, and say that 
the King of Prussia, after reading the last news from 
America, was willing to stake his military reputation 
on a prediction that, unless France speedily interfered, 
the colonists would be beaten ; and that England, as 
soon as the rebellion was crushed, without troubling 
herself to issue a formal declaration of war, would 
descend in overpowering force upon the French garri- 
sons in the West Indies.^ 

Frederic's neighbourly interest in their national 
affairs was accepted by the French as a compliment. 
They set a high value on the advice voluntarily and 
gratuitously offered them by so consummate a master 
of war and foreign policy ; although they could not 
but perceive that he consistently abstained from en- 
forcing his precepts by the smallest particle of practice. 
An old German Baron in Philadelphia had been accus- 
tomed to amuse his young Whig friends by assuring 
them, in quaint English, that the King of Prussia was 
" a great man for Liberty ; " ^ but never was a sentiment 
more strictly platonic than Frederic's affection for the 
cause of American freedom. He maintained a passive 
attitude throughout the war; he civilly, but very 
plainly, forbade Congress to use his port of Embden as 
a base for their naval operations ; and it was not until 
the rebellion had finally triumphed, and the world was 
once more at peace, that he followed the lead of Great 
Britain herself, and, long after the twelfth hour had 
struck, recognised the United States as an independent 

^ Le roi Frederic a M. de Goltz, Berlin, 31 Decembre 1776 ; Potsdam, 
16 Octobre, 30 Octobre, 13 Novembre, 17 Novembre, 27 Novembre 1777. 
Doniol ; Tome L, Annexes du Chapitre 17. 

^ Graydon's Memoirs. 


nation.^ Frederic overflowed with excellent reasons 
for remaining neutral. He was always ready to ex- 
plain, with ostentatious humihty, how he was so poor, 
and so much of a landsman, as to be of no account 
whatever in a maritime war. England, (he said,) could 
raise the thirty-six million crowns, which each cam- 
paign cost her, more easily than he himself could 
borrow a florin. When a French philosopher inquired 
what part His Majesty would take in the approaching 
struggle on behalf of humanity, Frederic replied that, 
so far as he could discern the intentions of Mars and 
Bellona, the combatants would expend their mutual 
fury at sea ; and that his own fleet unfortunately 
laboured under the disadvantage of containing neither 
ships, pilots, admirals, nor sailors. He was frequently 
urged to sanction a traffic, which could not fail to be 
lucrative, between the Prussian ports and the sea-board 
of the revolted colonies ; but he answered, like a sound 
man of business, that the British Admiralty had eighty 
cruisers afloat, and that the capture of a single one of 
his own blockade-runners would sweep away the profits 
of the entire venture/^ 

Frederic the Great eluded the advances of the 
American Congress with the skill and astuteness of an 
old campaigner. During the year immediately succeed- 
ing the Declaration of Independence, the new Republic 
across the ocean was a terror and a bugbear in every 
Chancellery on the Continent of Europe. All the multi- 
tudinous blunders in administration and in war, which 
were made by that audacious and energetic population 
of Anglo-Saxon colonists, thrown unexpectedly on their 
own resources, were as nothing in comparison to the 
crude and haphazard quality of their early attempts at 
diplomacy. Congress, jealous of the individual, declined 

^ Wharton's Diplomatic Correspondence ; Volume I., Introduction, 
Chapter 6. 

'^ Le roi Frederic au Comte de Maltzan, 13 Octobre 1777 * ^ ^' d'Alem- 
bert, 26 Octobre 1777; au Comte de Maltzan, 3 Juin 1776; i M. dc 
Schulenburg, 16 Mai 1777. 


to nominate a responsible Minister for Foreign Affairs ; 
and the external relations of the United States were 
entrusted to a committee fluctuating in numbers and 
composition, with no permanent Chairman or Secretary, 
and no authority to initiate a policy of its own. Im- 
portant matters were openly debated, and decided by 
vote of the whole House, after the most confidential 
despatches from Madrid or Versailles had been read 
aloud at the table ; and, when Congress was not in 
session, the decision had to wait. The statesmen at 
Philadelphia conducted their diplomatic proceedings 
with no lack of spirit and vigour, and with a super- 
abundance of startling originality. They began by 
procuring a copy of Vattel, ** which was continually 
in the hands of members ; " and, if the book taught 
them nothing else, they might learn from its pages that 
every proposal, great or small, which they pressed on 
the attention of foreign Courts, was in flat and flagrant 
contradiction to the Law of Nations. They appointed 
a perfect swarm of envoys and agents, and invested 
them with extensive powers. They fixed the salaries 
of their ambassadors, and left them to be paid by the 
novel expedient of borrowing money from the Courts to 
which they were accredited. They arranged a separate 
cipher with each of their emissaries ; ^ they instructed 
him in the mysteries of invisible ink ; and they care- 
fully specified the weight of shot which would be 
required to sink his bag of papers if ever, in the course 
of a voyage, the ship in which he travelled was in 
danger of being overhauled by a British frigate. And, 
above all, they laid down principles, and invented 
methods, which in process of time would have revolu- 
tionised the whole system of diplomacy, if they had 
been recommended for general imitation by success, 
instead of being discredited by notorious failure.^ 

1 A curious specimen of these ciphers is given in a note on page io8 
of the Second Volume of this history. 

* Wharton's Introduction^ Chapters i and 9. Franklin to Dumas ; 
Philadelphia, December 19, 1775. Arthur Lee to the Committee of 


Among the authoritative canons of diplomacy are the 
three settled rules that an envoy should not be pressed 
upon a foreign Court which is unwilling to receive one ; 
that, when proposals of an exceptional and momentous 
character are submitted to a foreign government, the 
case should be put forward with circumspection, and 
the ground carefully prepared beforehand ; and that, 
where a nation is unable to command the services of 
professional diplomatists, its ambassadors should be men 
who have given proof of ability and discretion in other, 
and kindred, departments of State business. Benjamin 
Franklin, the only American who had had experience 
in dealing with European Cabinets, urged these con- 
siderations upon his brother-members ; but the Lees 
and the Adamses, and those with whom they habitually 
acted, were enamoured of a theory which not even 
Franklin could induce them to abandon. The same 
political party within the walls of Congress, which 
believed in amateur generals, and advocated a head- 
long strategy in war, pinned its faith on amateur ambas- 
sadors, and maintained that all negotiations with external 
governments should be conducted in a blunt and uncere- 
monious style. '' Militia diplomatists," (said John 
Adams,) *' sometimes gain victories over regular troops, 
even by departing from the rules." ^ That was the doc- 
trine of the hour ; and the politicans who then guided 
the counsels of America acted up to it without qualifica- 
tion, and without reserve. They extemporised a diplo- 
matic service by the easy process of nominating any 
American Whig who happened to be in Europe when 

Secret Correspondence ; June 3, 1776. Committee of Secret Correspon- 
dence to Captain Hammond ; Baltimore, Jan. 2, 1777. 

1 John Adams to Robert R. Livingston; Feb. 21, 1782. Adams -said, 
in the same letter, that a man might be unacceptable at the Court to 
which he was sent, and yet successfully accomplish the object of his 
mission. That would be true of those who, like Adams himself, and the 
younger Laurens, brought to the unaccustomed work of diplomacy an 
exalted character, and a strong intellect ; but the typical American emis- 
sary, in the earlier period of the Revolution, was endowed with neither 
the one nor the other. 


the Revolution broke out, and who had a mind for 
public employment. None of these ready-made ambas- 
sadors possessed any aptitude for their new vocation ; 
their antecedents had often been dubious ; and their 
subsequent history, in some cases, was nothing better 
than deplorable. Always without invit^-tion, and for 
the most part in the teeth of strenuous remonstrances, 
they were despatched to the capital of every leading 
European country, or at all events as far across the 
frontier as they were allowed to penetrate. The accepta- 
bility of the individual envoy has always been accounted 
a prime factor in the success of his mission ; but 
anything less resembling a persona grata cannot be 
pictured than an ex-barrister or commission agent, — 
with the gift of the tongue, but not of tongues, — forcing 
his way into a royal antechamber as the representative of 
a Republic which had never been officially recognised ; 
begging in voluble and idiomatic English for a large 
loan of public money ; and exhorting the Ministers of 
the Court, within whose precincts he had trespassed, to 
embark upon a course of treacherous hostility against 
a powerful monarch with whom they were living on 
terms of apparent amity. 

Spain, of all the great European powers, required 
the most cautious and delicate handling. Her wars 
with England had left her embittered and vindictive, 
perilously weak and terribly poor. The British garrison 
at Gibraltar was a thorn in her side which she would 
risk a very serious operation to extract ; but she dis- 
criminated between the various expedients that pre- 
sented themselves for retaliating upon her ancient 
enemy. She was prepared to encourage disaffection, 
and to subsidise rebellion, among the Catholics of 
Ireland ; ^ but she watched the revolt of the British 
colonies in America with small sympathy, and grave 
uneasiness on her own account. The population of the 
Spanish dependencies on the further side of the Atlantic 

1 Letter of the Marquis de Grimaldi from Madrid to the Spanish 
Ambassador at Paris ; 26 February 1777. Doniol ; Tome I., Page 335. 


far exceeded that of the mother-country. They were 
bound to Spain by no sentiment of patriotism, no affec- 
tion for the reigning family, and no community of 
political rights and privileges. The union between the 
component parts of the empire depended exclusively 
on material force ; and the material force of the Spanish 
Government had been reduced very low indeed.^ Louis 
the Sixteenth's ministers were insistent in their proposal 
that both branches of the House of Bourbon should join 
in the crusade against England. But Charles the Third, 
and his able and honest Chief of the Cabinet, the Count 
Florida Blanca, listened to the suggestion with distrust 
and misgiving ; and when, after long hesitation, and 
many qualms of conscience, they at length yielded to 
French importunity, they never ceased to suspect, in 
their inmost hearts, that their alliance with the Amer- 
ican republic was a suicidal policy. Spanish Legiti- 
mists of pure blood believe, to this very hour, that all 
the subsequent misfortunes of their cause, and country, 
are due to the madness of the old Spanish Court in 
assisting the rebels of New England and Virginia against 
their lawful Sovereign.^ 

The Lees of Westmoreland County in Virginia, when 
the Revolution began, might plausibly be described by 
their admirers as the governing family of America.^ 

1 Bancroft's History of the common action of France and America in 
the War of Independence ; Chapter I. 

2 " The disregard of the Legitimist principle by France and Spain, 
between 1776 and 1782, led to the French Revolution, the invasion of 
Spain by the French, and to revolutions in all the Spanish possessions on 
the American Continent. The rebellions in Cuba, and the Philippines, are 
the last direct consequences of the help which Charles the I'hird gave 
the Americans in their War of Independence." These sentences are 
taken from an Address, presented to Don Carlos by some of his leading 
adherents during the recent conflict between the United States and Spain. 

•^ "That band of brothers, intrepid and unchangeable, who, like the 
Greeks at Thermopylae, stood in the gap, in defence of their country, from 
the first glimmering of the Revolution in the horizon, through all its 
rising light, to the perfect day." This picture of the Lee family was 
drawn by John Adams, at the age of eighty-three. He put no shade into 
his group of portraits, although there was enough, and to spare, of it in 
one of the sitters. But it would be unjust to deny that all the Lees were 
sincere partisans of the Revolution. 


Two of them were Signers ; and one, the celebrated 
Richard Henry Lee, was an orator of great influence, 
and remarkable charm. Another pair of the brethren 
sought their fortune in England, — William as a mer- 
chant, and Arthur at the Bar. They plunged deep into 
the municipal politics of London, at a time when the 
London Corporation was a living and powerful force in 
the politics of the empire. WiUiam Lee, in 1775, was 
elected an alderman on the Wilkes ticket, after a heated 
contest in which his brother Arthur astonished the 
Liverymen by a display of that eloquence which was 
native in his family. Arthur Lee had considerable 
talent ; and he might have played a fine part in the 
American Revolution if his self-esteem had not been 
in vast excess of his public spirit. His constitu- 
tional inability to see anything in his colleagues and 
comrades except their least pleasing and admirable 
qualities, and his readiness to imagine evil in them 
where none existed, marred his own usefulness as a 
servant of the people, and led him, in more than one 
instance, to inflict cruel and irreparable injury upon 
others. Such was the man who, in the spring of 1777, 
set off on the road to Madrid as the show ambassador 
of the United States. He heralded his approach by a 
memorial to the Court of Spain describing the American 
Republic as an infant Hercules who had strangled ser- 
pents in the cradle ; and declaring, (with a change of 
metaphor inside the space of three sentences,) that the 
hour had come to clip the wings of Britain, and pinion 
her for ever. The Spanish ministers replied, quietly 
and curtly, that Lee, in his eagerness to serve his own 
country, had not considered the difficulties and obliga- 
tions of those whom he was addressing. His progress 
southward was stopped short at Burgos by order of 
the Court ; and, like other people who have not been 
wanted in Spain, he was gradually compelled to retreat 
beyond the Ebro to Vittoria, and thence expelled in 
rout and confusion back across the Pyrenees. 

Arthur Lee did not stand alone in the frustration 


of his hopes, and the collapse of his enterprise. His 
brother William, who had been appointed by Congress 
to be their national representative in Austria, was duly 
admonished that his presence would be unacceptable 
to the Emperor Joseph ; and he was careful not to 
show himself within a hundred leagues of Vienna. 
Ralph Izard of South Carolina had for some years 
resided in Europe as "a gentleman of fortune." He 
was named American Minister at Florence ; but he 
never passed the Alps ; for the Grand Duke of Tuscany 
let him know by post that his credentials would not 
be recognised. The most disagreeably situated among 
all the batch of envoys was Francis Dana of Massachu- 
setts, who had been told off to Russia, and who walked 
fearlessly into the she-bear's den. Catherine had no 
use for him. Asa politic Sovereign she shrank from 
giving unnecessary offence to England ; and a demure 
Bostonian was not the sort of foreign visitor whom, as 
a woman, she cared to have about her. Her ministers 
informed Dana that he must not so much as petition 
to be received at Court. He lived in mortifying isola- 
tion. Official society closed its doors against him ; and 
his existence was studiously ignored by the English, 
who were the only people in St. Petersburg with whom 
he could exchange an intelligible sentence.^ Rebuffed 
in every quarter of Europe, like so many commercial 
travellers forbidden to display their wares, the baffled 
diplomatists fell back upon Paris, where they led an 
aimless and restless existence ; — interfering in the nego- 
tiations conducted by the American Legation at the 
Court of France ; squabbling over their share in the 

^ Wharton's Introduction ; Chapter 14. Dana used to write in Eng- 
lish to Verac, the French Ambassador at St. Petersburg; and Verac 
got his letters translated, and then answered in French. " It is very 
doubtful, Sir," (so Verac warned Dana on one occasion,) " whether 
the Cabinet of Her Imperial Majesty will consent to recognise the 
Minister of a Power which has not as yet, in their eyes, a political exist- 
ence, and expose tViemselves to the complaints which the Court of London 
will not fail to make. ... I ought to inform you that the Count Panin, 
and the Count d'Ostermann, do not understand English. This will 
render your communication with the ministers difficult." 


fund available for the payment of their salaries ; and 
sending monthly reports to Congress which, as often as 
not, failed to arrive at their destination. For the risks 
of communication by sea were so great that American 
state secrets were no secrets for the English Cabinet. 
The Republic had as many as twelve paid agents on the 
Continent of Europe, all of whom wrote home on every 
opportunity ; and yet there was once a period of eleven 
months during which not a single line from any one 
of them reached Philadelphia.^ It was calculated that 
more than half the letters written by, and to, the 
American envoys in Europe were captured on deep 
water by British cruisers ; and King George's servants 
in Downing Street were kept informed of the plans and 
intentions of Congress as promptly, as regularly, and as 
circumstantially as the Ministers of Congress abroad. 

Arthur Lee, very soon after his return from Spain, 
started from Paris with the intention of presenting him- 
self to Frederic the Great in the capacity of Minister 
for the United States at the Prussian Court. He was 
accompanied by a Secretary of Legation in the person 
of Stephen Sayre, an American born, who had been a 
Sheriff of London, and who had dipped deep in the 
politics of that city, where he more than once was in 
hot, and rather dirty, water. Lee, on his arrival at 
Berlin, was met by an official notification which, as 
far as he could puzzle out the language employed 
to convey it, indicated to him that his visit was an 
unexpected and unappreciated honour, but that he 
might remain in the city as a private individual, with- 
out assuming a diplomatic character.^ He employed 
himself in drawing up a memorial which contained a 
great deal of advice about Frederic's own business, 

1 Wharton's Introduction ; Pages 461-466. 

2 Baron de Schulenburg to Arthur Lee ; Berlin, May 20, and June 9, 
1777. "I have received," (the Baron wrote,) " the letter which you did 
me the honour of writing to me yesterday ; and I imagine, from its con- 
clusion, that, on account of the difference of language, you did not, per- 
haps, take in the true sense some of the expressions which I used in our 


enforced in a style curiously unsuited to that monarch's 
literary taste. ^ Lee, in what the King must have 
regarded as a tone of grandiose impertinence, lectured 
his Majesty on the advantages which he would reap 
by allowing American privateers to sell their prizes 
in Prussian harbours, and by supplying the American 
troops with arms and ammunition. Attacking his hero 
on what was supposed to be his weak side, Lee 
suggested to the Prussian ministers that, for every 
musket which their royal master exported to New 
England at a cost to himself of less than five dollars, he 
might carry back as much Virginian tobacco as would 
sell for forty dollars in Europe.^ Frederic was deaf to 
these blandishments ; and the American strangers, for 
want of more profitable occupation, passed much of 
their time in watching the soldiers of the most famous 
army in Europe go through their exercise. The letter, 
in which Arthur Lee communicated to General Wash- 
ington his observations on the Potsdam discipline, 
suggests a suspicion that some Prussian subaltern, 
with a turn for mystification, must have attended 
him as his military cicerone. He reported that King 
Frederic's infantry, instead of taking aim, were taught 
to slant the barrel downwards so that the bullet 
would strike the ground ten yards in front of them. 
''This depression," wrote Lee, ** is found necessary 
to counteract the elevation which the act of firing 
gives to the musket."^ That was a lesson in practical 
marksmanship which the American Commander-in- 
Chief was at liberty to impart, for all that it was worth, 
to Colonel Morgan and his Virginian riflemen. 

The King of Prussia, at that moment, would will- 

1 Lee confidently assured Frederic that he need not be afraid of 
England. " You have," he wrote, " no vessels of war to cause your flag 
to be respected. But, Sire, you have the best regiments in the world ; 
and Great Britain, destitute as she is of wise counsels, is not so foolish 
as to incur the risk of compelling your Majesty to join your valuable 
forces to those of her rival." 

^ A. Lee to Schulenburg; June 7, 1777. 

3 A. Lee to Washington ; Berlin, June 15, 1777. 


ingly have dispensed with the presence at Berlin of any 
diplomatic representative of the English-speaking race. 
There had been times when the ambassador of Great 
Britain stood high in the favour of Frederic the Great. 
Sir Andrew Mitchell was his comrade of the camp, and 
the partner of his interior counsels, throughout the 
worst hardships and anxieties of the Seven Years' War ; 
and he had been on excellent terms with Mitchell's 
successor, — that same James Harris who afterwards 
made a considerable figure as the first Earl of Malmes- 
bury. Harris had very recently been promoted to St. 
Petersburg, and had been followed at Berlin by Hugh 
Elliot, a cadet of the house of Minto. Elliot possessed 
much of the family cleverness, and already was versed 
in the lighter aspects of several European Courts. He 
had served with spirit against the Turks, as a volunteer 
in the Russian army ; but as yet he was only five- 
and-twenty, and no wiser than people of the same 
age who are not ambassadors. Frederic viewed the 
appointment as a personal slight upon himself, and told 
the Comte de Maltzan, his diplomatic representative in 
London, that he had half a mind to recall him, and 
replace him at the Court of St. James's by a captain of 
infantry. That was the way, (he said,) to repay the 
English government with like for like.^ 

While the king was in this humour he was informed 
that the servants of the British Embassy had broken 
into Arthur Lee's lodging, and purloined his box of 
secret papers, the contents of which had been copied 
out by a large staff of writers, and despatched to 
England. Frederic, who had been through graver 
troubles, did not lose his self-possession over an 
incident which had a redeeming feature in the eyes 
of the old cynic, inasmuch as it provided him with a 
fertile, and congenial, theme for banter and irony. 
" Oh, the worthy disciple," (he cried,) '' of Lord 
Bute ! What an incomparable personage is your God- 

1 Le roi Frederic au Comte de Maltzan, Potsdam, lO Octobre 1 776; 
27 Janvier, 24 Fevrier, 1779. 


dam Elliot ! ^ The English ought to blush for sending 
such ministers abroad." He vented his wrath, during 
the course of the next fortnight, in phrases of droll 
vehemence ; but he was not disposed to bear hard 
upon a young man of promise who attempted no 
defence, and who appealed in becoming terms to the 
royal clemency. Elliot accepted the whole responsi- 
bility ; declared, — truly or diplomatically, as the case 
might be, — that the British government had no share 
in a transaction which he acknowledged to be unjusti- 
fiable ; and submitted himself humbly to the judgment 
of the King of Prussia. Regret was duly expressed by 
George the Third's Cabinet ; and the Secretary of State 
rebuked Mr. Elliot for the impropriety of his conduct, 
and warned him that nothing except the generous 
behaviour of His Prussian Majesty had on this occasion 
prevented the necessity of removing him from his post.^ 
Frederic's anger and annoyance, in point of fact, were 
directed rather against the victim, than the contriver, 
of the outrage. The King was only too well aware 
that the notice, which he had been obliged to take, of 
an international scandal arising within the circuit 
of his own capital, would be construed by the world 
at large as an indirect recognition of the American 
Republic. His hand had been forced, — a sensation 
which a strong man never relishes ; and the effects 

1 Le roi Frederic au Comte de Maltzan ; Potsdam, 30 Juin 1777. 
Frederic did not easily tire of an old, or even a very old, jest ; and, now 
that our countrymen had lost his good graces, he often applied to them 
that nickname by which, three centuries and a half before, they were 
known on the continent of Europe among people who did not love them. 
*' If," said Joan of Arc, " there were a hundred thousand more Goddams 
in France than there are to-day, they should not have this kingdom." 

2 The tone of this communication from the English Foreign Office, 
and the substance of that which followed, indicate that Lord Suffolk had 
known a great deal more about the seizure of I^ee's papers than he now 
chose to admit. ** A little later, another despatch informs Mr. Elliot that 
the King of England had entirely overlooked the exceptional circum- 
stances of the business, in consideration of the loyal zeal which occasioned 
them ; and the despatch closes by the announcement that the expenses, 
incurred by Mr. Elliot, would be indemnilied by the Crown." Alemoir of 
the Right Honourable Hugh Elliot, by the Countess of Minto ; Chapter 3. 

VOL. IV. 2c; 


of his disgust and resentment were soon apparent 
Arthur Lee's mission came to an abrupt termination. 
His papers had been abstracted on the twenty-fifth of 
June ; and before the last day of July he was back 
again in Paris. Four months afterwards he intimated 
to the Prussian government that his brother William 
was appointed to succeed him at Berlin ; but Frederic 
had had enough of the Lees, and replied by a brief and 
peremptory refusal.^ No sane man, in the face of such 
a prohibition, would venture to thrust himself into the 
territory of a monarch who had spent the seven best 
years of his life in proving that he could make himself 
supremely unpleasant to an invader. 

The early relations between the United States of 
America, and the monarchies of Europe, may be 
studied with advantage by those writers who attach 
little or no importance to the personal factor in history. 
The prospects of the young Republic were seriously, 
and to all appearance irretrievably, damnified by the 
mismanagement of Congress; but the position was 
saved by the ability, the discretion, and the force of 
character of one single man. Benjamin Franklin was 
now past seventy. He had begun to earn his bread as 
a child of ten ; he commenced as an author at sixteen ; 
and he had ever since been working with his hands, 
and taxing his brain, unintermittently, and to the top 
of his power. Such exertions were not maintained 
with impunity. He kept his strength of will un- 
impaired, his mind clear and lively, and his temper 
equable, by a life-long habit of rigid abstemiousness ; 
but he already felt the approach of painful diseases that 
tortured him cruelly before the immense undertaking, 
which still lay before him, had been half accomplished. 
In September 1776 he was elected Commissioner to 
France, by a unanimous Resolution of Congress. 
Franklin, in the highest sense of the term, was 

1 Baron de Schulenburg to A, Lee ; Berlin, November 28, 1777. 


a professional diplomatist; for he had passed sixteen 
years in England as Agent for his colony ; and his 
individual qualities had gained for him a political 
influence, and a social standing, out of all proportion 
to the comparatively humble interests which he 
represented at the British Court. The ambassadors 
of the Great Powers, who were resident in London, 
treated him as one of themselves. He was old enough 
to be the father of most among them, and wise enough 
to be the adviser of all ; and, towards the end of his 
time, they united in regarding him as in some sort the 
doyen of their body. Franklin's knowledge of European 
statesmen, and courtiers, taught him to anticipate noth- 
ing but failure and humiliation from the diplomatic 
methods which Congress favoured ; and he had no 
confidence whatever in the emissaries whom it thought 
fit to employ. The acceptance of the laborious and 
perilous mission, to which he was now invited, pre- 
sented itself to his mind in the light of an absolute 
duty. His feelings remain on record in a letter which 
he subsequently addressed to a friend who urged him, 
in those " tempestuous times," to take some care of 
himself, and of his own safety. " I thank you," he 
wrote, " for your kind caution ; but, having nearly 
finished a long life, I set but little value on what 
remains of it. Like a draper, when one chaffers with 
him for a remnant, I am ready to say : * As it is only 
the fag end, I will not differ with you about it. Take 
it for what you please.' " ^ 

We are told that " before Franklin left for France 
he placed in the hands of Congress, then in dire 
necessity for want of money, all his available funds, 
knowing that, if the cause failed, his loan failed with 
it. "2 It was a paltry sum according to American 
standards of to-day ; for the capital accumulated by 
the most famous inventor, and the most indefatigable 
municipal administrator, of his generation, amounted 

1 Franklin to David Hartley ; April, 1778. 
^ Wharton's Introduction \ Chapter 10. 

■ZG 2 


to just three thousand pounds : and, when the country 
grew poorer still, and it became doubtful whether 
Franklin would ever again see the colour of his money, 
he acquiesced in his probable loss with the resig- 
nation of a disinterested patriot.^ He, and two of 
his grandsons, embarked in a sloop of war of sixteen 
guns, carrying a consignment of indigo which was to 
be sold in France for the purpose of defraying the initial 
expenses of the American Legation. The captain was 
charged by the Committee of Marine to make the 
Doctor's voyage pleasant, and to take his orders about 
speaking to any vessel which might be encountered 
on the way.2 The weather was rough, and Franklin 
suffered much from an old man's ailment, aggravated 
by the tossing of the waves ; but he never was fretful, 
and never at a loss for occupation and diversion. He 
confirmed, or corrected, his former observations on the 
temperature of the Gulf-stream ; he experienced the 
emotion of being chased by a British war-ship ; and, 
after a swift run of thirty days, he sailed into Quiberon 
Bay, accompanied, to the wonder and amusement of 
Europe, by two prizes laden with a large and varied 
assortment of goods, the value of which he doubtless 
could calculate more accurately and quickly than 
any other man on board. ^ When he had recovered 
sufficient health he travelled to Paris, where he was 
awaited by Silas Deane and Arthur Lee, whom Congress 
had associated with him on the Commission. Before 
the end of the year the three Americans had an inter- 
view with the Comte de Vergennes, and placed in his 

^ Twelve years afterwards Franklin took stock of his investment. " I 
have received," he wrote, " no interest for several years ; and, if I were 
now to sell the principal, I should not get more than a sixth part. You 
must noi ascribe this to want of honesty in our government, but to want 
of ability ; the war having exhausted all the faculties of the country." 

'^ American Archives for October 1776. 

3 Walpole to the Countess of Ossory ; Dec. 17, 1776. Beaumarchais 
to Vergennes ; 16 December, 1776. "The noise," wrote Beaumarchais, 
" made by the arrival of Franklin is inconceivable. This brave old man 
allowed his vessel to make two prizes on the way, in spite of the personal 
risk he thereby incurred. And we French permit ourselves to be afraid ! " 


hands a very brief and closely argued letter, which bore 
in every sentence the marks of condensation and excision 
by FrankUn's pen. The CommL-^sioners offered France 
and Spain the friendship and aihance of the United 
States ; they made a promise, (which, as the event 
showed, was not theirs to give,) that a vigorously 
conducted war would expel the British from their settle- 
ments in the West Indies ; they asked for thirty thousand 
firelocks and bayonets ; and they proposed to hire 
from King Louis eight ships of the line, grounding 
their request on the analogy of the battalions which 
the Duke of Brunswick, and the Landgrave of Hesse, 
had placed at the disposal of England.^ The French 
government returned a very civil, but guarded, answer ; 
by word of mouth, and not on paper, in order that the 
envoys of Congress might have no compromising 
document to exhibit, or to mislay and lose. But the 
mere circumstance that proposals so audacious and 
unusual had not been summarily rejected by a Cabinet 
of responsible French ministers was a point gained 
for America, and a long step by France on the down- 
ward road which led straight to an English war. 

The Marquis de Noailles, who then was French 
Minister at the Court of St. James's, had been in- 
structed to assure the English Cabinet that Franklin's 
presence in Europe was a matter of no political sig- 
nificance whatsoever. Acting upon the maxim that a 
man is best able to deceive others when he is deceived 
himself. King Louis's Foreign Secretary was at the 
pains to compose an artful, and most insincere, de- 
spatch with the express intention of hoodwinking and 
misleading King Louis's ambassador. Vergennes in- 
formed Noailles that Doctor Franklin conducted him- 
self modestly in Parisian society, where he had renewed 
acquaintance with some old friends, and was surrounded 
by a host of the curious. His conversation, which be- 
tokened the man of talent and intelligence, was in a 

^ Doniol; Tome I., Chapitre 8. 


quiet and subdued tone ; and his whole course of life 
was transparently candid and guileless.^ There was 
something exquisitely absurd in this fancy portrait of 
Benjamin Franklin as a philosopher travelling in search 
of scientific facts, and actuated by a mild and amiable 
interest in the manners and customs of the foreign 
country where he chanced to find himself. Lord Stor- 
mont, the English ambassador in France, took occasion 
to warn the French government that the Doctor, simple 
as he seemed, had got the better of three successive 
English Foreign Ministers ; and that he never was so 
formidable, and never so little to be trusted, as when he 
appeared to have no room in his mind for affairs of 

Lord Stormont was right. Franklin had come to 
Europe for the sole purpose of engaging in a stern and 
single-handed conflict with the difficulties and problems 
of a supreme crisis ; and the old man's tale of work 
during the next eight years was a record which has 
seldom been beaten. Europe, (it has been truly said,) 
was henceforward the centre of action, where the 
funds for carrying on the Rebellion were raised, and 
the supplies required by the American armies were 
mainly purchased. In Europe, moreover, as a conse- 
quence of the impossibility of prompt and regular com- 
munication across the seas with Congress, the diplomacy 
of the Republic was necessarily moulded. American 
privateers were fitted out, their crews enlisted, and 
their prizes sold, in European ports ; and all controverted 
questions about the legal validity of their captures 
were examined and decided in Europe, and not in 
America. " It was by Franklin alone that these various 
functions were exercised. It was on Franklin alone 
that fell the enormous labour of keeping the accounts 
connected with these various departments." ^ He had 

^ Le Comte de Vergennes au Marquis de Noailles; lo Janvier, 1777. 

2 Wharton, in the tenth chapter of his Introduction^ gives an ex- 
haustive account of Franklin's work in France. His functions, (Wharton 
writes,) " were of the same general character as those which in England 


no staff of clerks at his command, and no deft and 
devoted subordinates to collect information, to sift corre- 
spondence, to prepare despatches for signature, and to 
save their over-burdened chief from the infliction of a 
personal interview with all the idlers, and jobbers, and 
soldiers of fortune, and real or sham men of science, 
who daily thronged his door. His only assistant was 
his elder grandson, — a worthy youth who could write 
from dictation, and copy a letter in good round hand ; 
but who did not possess, and never acquired, the art of 
drafting an important paper. 

From other Americans then resident in Paris Franklin 
received little help, and a great deal of most unnecessary 
hindrance. Silas Deane, who had business knowledge 
and business aptitudes, was of service in arranging con- 
tracts, and inspecting warlike stores ; and Deane, after 
Franklin's arrival in Europe, had the good sense to con- 
fine himself strictly within his own province. But 
Arthur Lee was an uneasy, and a most dangerous, yoke- 
fellow. Lee was a sinister personage in the drama of 
the American Revolution ; — the assassin of other men's 
reputations and careers, and the suicide of his own. 
He now was bent on defaming and destroying Silas 
Deane, whom he fiercely hated, and on persuading the 
government at home to transfer Franklin to Vienna, so 
that he himself might remain behind in France as 
the single representative of America at the Court of 
Versailles. The group of politicians in Philadelphia, 
who were caballing against George Washington, main- 
tained confidential, and not very creditable, relations 
with Arthur Lee at Paris. His eloquent brother was 
his mouthpiece in Congress ; and he plied Samuel 
Adams with a series of venomous libels upon Franklin, 
which were preserved unrebuked, and too evidently had 
been read with pleasure. The best that can be said for 
Arthur Lee is that, in his personal dealings with the 

are exercised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary for 
Foreign Affairs, the Admiralty Board, the War Secretaries, and the Courts 
of Admiralty." 


colleagues whom he was seeking to ruin, he made no 
pretence of a friendship which he did not feel ; and his 
attitude towards his brother envoys was, to the last 
degree, hostile and insulting. He found an ally in 
Ralph Izard, who lived at Paris, an ambassador in 
partibus, two hundred leagues away from the capital to 
which he was accredited ; drawing the same salary as 
Franklin ; denouncing him in open letters addressed to 
the President of Congress; and insisting, with queru- 
lous impertinence, on his right to participate in all the 
secret counsels of the French Court. Franklin for 
some months maintained an unruffled composure. He 
had never been quick to mark offences ; and he now 
had reached that happy period of life when a man 
values the good-will of his juniors, but troubles himself 
very little about their disapproval. He ignored the 
provocation given by his pair of enemies, and extended 
to them a hospitality which they, on their part, did not 
refrain from accepting, although his food and wine 
might well have choked them.^ But the moment came 
when his own self-respect, and a due consideration for 
the public interest, forbade Franklin any longer to pass 
over their conduct in silence ; and he spoke out in a 
style which astonished both of them at the time, and 
has gratified the American reader ever since. He 
castigated Arthur Lee in as plain and vigorous English 
as ever was set down on paper, and informed Ralph 
Izard, calmly but very explicitly, that he would do well 
to mind his own business.^ 

1 Wharton's Introduction ; Chapter 12. 

2 " It is true that I have omitted answering some of your letters, 
particularly your angry ones, in which you, with very magisterial airs, 
schooled and documented me as if I had been one of your domestics. I 
saw, in the strongest light, the importance of our living in decent civility 
towards each other, while our great affairs were depending here. I saw 
your jealous, suspicious, malignant, and quarrelsome temper, which was 
daily manifesting itself against Mr. Deane, and almost every other person 
you had any concern with. I therefore passed your affronts in silence ; 
did not answer, but burnt, your angry letters ; and received you, when I 
next saw you, with the same civility as if you had never wrote them." 
Franklin to Arthur Lee ; Passy, 4 April, 1778. 


Franklin, as long as he was on European soil, had 
no need to stand upon ceremony when dealing with a 
refractory fellow-countryman ; for he was in great 
authority on that side of the Atlantic Ocean. Europe 
had welcomed and accepted him, not as a mere spokes- 
man and agent of the government at Philadelphia, but 
as the living and breathing embodiment of the Amer- 
ican Republic. No statesman would do business with 
anybody but FrankHn. No financier would negotiate 
a loan except with him, or pay over money into other 
hands but his. '' It was to Franklin that both the 
French and English ministries turned, as if he were not 
only the sole representative of the United States in 
Europe, but as if he were endowed with plenipotentiary 
power." ^ Nine-tenths of the public letters addressed 
to the American Commissioners were brought to his 
house; "and," (so his colleagues admitted,) "they 
would ever be carried wherever Doctor Franklin is." ^ 
He transacted his affairs with Louis the Sixteenth's 
ministers on a footing of equality, and, (as time went 
on,) of unostentatious but unquestionable superiority. 
Thomas Jefferson, an impartial and most competent 
observer, had on one occasion been contending that 
American diplomatists were always spoiled for use after 
they had been kept seven years abroad. But this, 
(said Jefferson,) did not apply to Franklin, "who was 
America itself when in France, not subjecting himself 
to French influence," but imposing American influence 
upon France, and upon the whole course and conduct 
of her national policy. 

The fact was that the French ministry, in its 
relations to Franklin, had to reckon with a political 
phenomenon of exceptional nature, and portentous 
significance. The royal authority in France was un- 
controlled by any effective, and continuously operating, 
machinery of national self-government; but that very 

1 Wharton's Introduction ; Chapter il. 

* John Adams to Jonathan Jackson ; Paris, 17 November, 1782. 


circumstance lent force and weight to public opinion, 
at those rare conjunctures when public opinion had 
been strongly moved. If ever the privileged, the 
moneyed, and the intellectual classes united in one way 
of thinking, their influence was all the more irresistible 
because it was not defined, and limited, by the pro- 
visions of a written constitution. The rest of the nation, 
below those classes, was a powerless and voiceless pro- 
letariat ; while above them there was nothing except a 
handful of Viscounts and Marquises, the Royal ministers 
of the hour, who were drawn from their ranks, and 
lived in their society, and who were mortally afraid of 
their disapprobation, and still more of their ridicule. 
France, in the last resort, was ruled by fashion ; and 
Franklin had become the idol of fashion like no 
foreigner, and perhaps no Frenchman, either before or 

His immense and, (as he himself was the foremost 
to acknowledge,) his extravagant popularity was founded 
on a solid basis of admiration and esteem. The origin 
of his fame dated from a time which seemed fabulously 
distant to the existing generation. His qualities and 
accomplishments were genuine and unpretentious ; and 
his services to the world were appreciated by high 
and low, rich and poor, in every country where men 
learned from books, or profited by the discoveries of 
science. His Poor Richard, — which expounded and 
elucidated a code of rules for the everyday conduct of 
life with sagacity that never failed, and wit that very 
seldom missed the mark, — had been thrice translated 
into French, had gone through many editions, and had 
been recommended by priests and bishops for common 
use in their parishes and dioceses. As an investigator, 
and an experimentalist, he was more widely known 
even than as an author; for he had always aimed at 
making natural philosophy the handmaid of material 
progress. Those homely and practical inventions, by 
which he had done so much to promote the comfort 
and convenience of the average citizen, had caused 


him to be regarded as a public benefactor in every 
civilised community throughout the world. ^ His 
reputation, (so John Adams wrote,) was more universal 
than that of Leibnitz or Newton. " His name was 
familiar to government and people, to foreign countries, 

— to nobility, clergy, and philosophers, as well as to 
plebeians, — to such a degree that there was scarcely 
a peasant or a citizen, a valet, coachman, or footman, 
a lady's chambermaid, or scullion in the kitchen, who 
did not consider him a friend to humankind." If 
Franklin, at seventy years of age, had visited France 
as a private tourist, his progress through her cities 
would have been one long ovation ; and her enthusiasm 
transcended all bounds when, coming as an ambassador 
from a new world beyond the seas, he appealed to 
French chivalry on behalf of a young nation struggling 
for freedom. "His mission," (said a French writer who 
was no blind partisan of Franklin,) ** flattered all the 
bright and generous ideas which animated France. He 
caressed our happiest hopes, our most gilded chimaeras. 
He came across the ocean to win liberty for his own 
country ; and he brought liberty to us. He was the rep- 
resentative of a people still primitive and unsophisticated, 

— or who appeared so in our eyes. He professed no 
rehgious creed except tolerance, and kindliness of heart. 
France, moved by a thousand passions and a thousand